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HC asks authorities to utilize land for Ring Road

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Says project work shall not be stalled

Srinagar: The J&K High Court Thursday ordered the authorities to utilize the land of the affected farmers who had stayed the Ring Road project seeking a fair compensation according to central government laws.

“The respondents shall proceed in the construction of ring road by utilizing the land, which will be subject to the decision rendered by this court,” directed a bench of Justices Ali Mohammad Magrey and Mohan Lal.

Pertinently, various central laws have been extended to Jammu and Kashmir since August 2019 when the erstwhile state’s special constitutional status was read down and the region was converted into a centrally-administered territory.

Yet the farmers whose land has been acquired for the Semi Ring Road project have been kept away from the Central Land Acquisition Act which could have ensured them a fair compensation.

More than 590 acres of agricultural land has been acquired by the government for the project so far.

When the matter was taken up for consideration, counsels appearing for the petitioners made reference to the judgment passed by the Coordinate Bench of this court in lead case bearing WP(C) No. 1993/2019 along with connected matters on 28.10.2021, and submitted that the subject is squarely covered by the said Judgment.

The division bench directed that a copy of the judgment be furnished to other side, who shall assist the court about the applicability of the judgment.

“Subject to the decision in the writ petitions qua application of the judgment for entitlement of the compensation, the project work shall not be stalled,” directed the bench.

The petitioners from Wathora Budgam and others had filed petitions against the notification dated 18.3.2017 for land acquisition issued by Collector Land Acquisition (ACR), as also notification whereby concerned Tehsildar has been directed to take possession of the land after fulfilling the conditions provided under law.

“The process has been delayed and acquisition proceedings have lapsed due to delay,” the petitioners said.

They have submitted that during the pendency of the proceedings, the status of the state of J&K changed and ‘reorganization order’ was issued in October 2019.

They pleaded that they are entitled to compensation under the Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. They have prayed for initiation of fresh acquisition proceedings as per the new law.

The petitioners from villages including Ganjibagh, Dharmuna, Pymus, Khanda, Ichgam, Wathoora and many other villages have been alleging that their land was being “forcibly acquired”.

“The notification issued by government under section 6 of erstwhile J&K Land Acquisition Act 1934 Samvat 1990 had lapsed due to efflux of time,” they said.

“We can’t give our land for peanuts,” say the farmers.

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