Land acquisition a hurdle in ring road project

Land acquisition for construction of 86-kilometer ring road project continues to be a hurdle as post-abrogation of article 370 the landowners are demanding fair compensation under central law.

The ‘right to fair compensation and transparency under land acquisition rehabilitation and resettlement (RFCTLARR) act 2013, 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.

A senior government official stated that “this situation has put in dilemma the National Highway Authority of India and J&K government as they are yet to find out ways to fund the land acquisition part of the project under the new rate.”

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Muzaffar Bhat said that after abrogation of Article 370, the 86-year old J&K land acquisition act got automatically repealed.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 on large scale for various infrastructure projects are entitled to compensation under new law applicable in J&K from 31 October 2019, but they are being denied this benefit.”

Under the J&K Reorganization Act 2019 around 153 central laws have been extended to J&K.

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.

While the Jammu ring road project has witnessed over 40 percent progress, in Kashmir the project is a non-starter.

Officials blame the delay in the land acquisition as the main hurdle in the ambitious project in Kashmir which could ease traffic movement on highways and facilitate hassle free inter-district movement.

The Srinagar ring road project is being executed by National Highway Authority of India.

A senior executive of NHAI said that they will soon have a meeting with their chairman regarding the land acquisition cost estimated by the J&K government.

“Rates of land have been revised as per the revised stamp rates. The cost of land acquisition has gone up from Rs 600 crore to 1400 crore, while as the total cost of the project is Rs 939 crore,” he said.

According to the detailed project report, the ring road for Srinagar will start at Galander and meet the highway at Narbal Junction in its Phase-I. The road would be four-lane with six-lane future projection.

Under the Phase-II of the project, a two-way road will start at Narbal and meet in Ganderbal. The project is likely to cost Rs 1195 crore in Phase-I and Rs 448 crore in Phase-II.

The road length in the Phase-I will be 34.72 kilometers and in the Phase-II 27.2 kilometers. There will be a Toll Plaza at Narbal Junction. In the proposed four-lane road project from Galander to Narbal, there will be 155 culverts, two road-over bridges, two flyovers, five major junctions, 17 minor junctions and one Toll Plaza.

The two-lane road from Narbal to Ganderbal will have 135 culverts, five major junctions and nine minor junctions.

The projects should keep room for widening from four-lane to six-lane and from two-lane to four-lane to cater to future needs.

A revenue document reveals that Kashmir will lose 4730 kanals of agriculture land to the project. Semi ring road will take away 3661 kanals of agriculture land in Budgam, 379 kanals in Pulwama, 202 kanals in Srinagar, 150 kanals in Baramulla, 160 kanals in Bandipora and 176 kanals in Ganderbal.