Kashmir ring road project still stuck at land acquisition stage

While as the first phase of Jammu ring road has been completed, in Kashmir the project is still stuck at the land acquisition stage. There is no progress on the project even as two years have passed since the project was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Official informed that the Revenue Department has finalized land compensation rates but the landowners from six villages of Budgam district have refused to give land on these rates.

The landowners are demanding fair compensation under central law— right to fair compensation and transparency under land acquisition rehabilitation and resettlement (RFCTLARR) act 2013— which was extended to Jammu and Kashmir after dilution of its special status.

As per the provisions of this act, the land owners are entitled to get more compensation than they were eligible under the erstwhile J&K land acquisition act 1934.

Recently on a plea by 36 landowners, the J&K High Court ordered authorities to maintain ‘status quo’ on a chunk of land required for construction of Semi Ring Road around Srinagar City.

The government had initiated process to acquire more than 60 kanal of land in 2017 in Budgam district for construction of the semi Ring Road.

Project in-charge of ring road project, Gaurav informed that they have initiated the process for land acquisition. “But the actual date when the work will start will be decided once the land acquisition process is completed for first phase.”

Aggrieved landowner and RTI activist, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat said that after abrogation of Article 370, the 86-year old J&K land acquisition act got automatically repealed. “Now the farmers in J&K whose land is being acquired are entitled to compensation under new law applicable in J&K from 31 October 2019, but they are being denied this benefit.”

He said under the new law, people especially the farmers affected by land acquisition are entitled to get 3 to 4 times more compensation than the market value of land. “This law also guarantees rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected people.”

Since their foundation was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2018, the two ring road projects— one each in Kashmir and Jammu — have seen no to little progress.

The Jammu ring road project’s first phase has been completed and was inaugurated by Lieutenant governor, Manoj Sinha on August 21.