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news details
State BJP failed to potray farmers issue
3/19/2019 12:14:50 AM
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat

Since 2013 I have been impress
ing upon successive Governments for enactment of a progressive Land Acquisition law in Jammu & Kashmir state. During last almost 6 years I have written more than two dozen articles on this issue in various newspapers. Earlier I was of the opinion that only Kashmiri farmers were the direct victims of Government's authoritarian policy on land acquisition. My entire mindset changed when I interacted with farmers in Jammu region especially those living with the jurisdiction of Jammu district who are affected by the proposed Ring Road. I have come to this conclusion that farmers belonging to Jammu district are the worst victims of forcible land acquisition process adopted by Government. The farmers are not only suffering because of forcible land acquisition but the revenue officials have kept stamp duty rates in Jammu district so less that in some areas the market rate of land is 50 to 60 times more than the stamp duty rate. How can Government justify its irrational stamp duty policy when there are places in Jammu district where Government rate (stamp duty) of land is even as low as Rs 78,000 per kanal?
Case of Harbans Singh
A retired military man namely Harbans Singh owns 8 kanal irrigated agricultural land at Malikpura Ban Sultan village near Miran Sahib. His entire land is going to be acquired by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for Jammu Ring Road project. Harbans Singh grows Basmati on this land. The market value of land is around Rs 60 lakhs per kanal but the Government is paying him mere Rs 1.50 lakhs per kanal plus 15 % Solatium (Jabirana) that means he is entitled to get around 1.70 lakhs per kanal. In total Harbans Singh will get a total compensation of mere Rs 13.80 lakhs for 8 kanals of land which he isn't ready to accept. Harbans with tears rolling down his cheeks said he would rather commit suicide but won't accept such a small amount as compensation as he won't be able to purchase even ½ kanal of land in his village. What kind of justice is Government doing with farmers? Where are the political leaders of Jammu especially leaders of BJP who claim to be saviours of Jammu? Why can't they protest or take up this issue with Governor? How can authorities snatch Harbans Singh's agricultural land that has value of Rs 4.80 crores and he is forced to accept mere Rs 13.60 lakhs? Pertinently during land acquisition process during setting up of electric towards affected people in the surrounding areas were given Rs 80,000 per marla that means Rs 16 lakhs / kanal rate was fixed. But, in case of Ring Road Private Negotiation (PNC) is not at all undertaken.
Case of Chaman Sharma & Rajiv
Chaman Sharma a resident of Kangrail village of Tehsil Balwal is being forced to give his 4 kanals of Basmati land to NHAI @ Rs 1.70 lakhs per kanal while as market value of land is around Rs 70 lakhs / kanal. Rajiv Sharma also from same village owns 26 kanals of agricultural land located on Jammu -Akhnoor highway. This particular land is registered as a commercial land by Government but Revenue department has made no mention about the same while preparing the awards for acquisition process. NHAI with the support of local Revenue officials plan to occupy Rajiv Sharma's land by use of force. 26 kanal agricultural / commercial land which has a market value of Rs 1 crore per kanal is being acquired at the rate of Rs 1.70 lakh and Rs 2.70 lakh per kanal respectively at two different locations on Jammu Akhnoor highway.
Mango trees of Mr Dubey
During my stay in Jammu few months back I happen to visit Prithipur village where Shri Sarat Chander Dubey owns a huge farmhouse that was developed by his late father Captain Bhola Nath Dubey in 1935. In past I have been in touch with Mr Dubey as I found him very proactive towards farmers issues and their fight against obsolete land acquisition law . Infact Mr Dubey and his group along with affected farmers from Kashmir valley particularly Budgam district are constantly in touch with each other.
I am trying my level best to create a joint platform of affected farmers from Kashmir valley and Jammu. Government is acquiring Mr Dubey's 35 kanals of agricultural land for the Ring Road project in Prithipur tehsil Bishnah and 5 kanals in village Kotli Mian Fateh of R S Pura tehsil. Mr Dubey's 40 fully grown Mango trees (80 to 85 years old) will also be axed by authorities along with around 20 trees of Sheesham , Jamun , Mulberry and Litchi. I was surprised to learn that Horticulture department has prepared a vague estimate of Rs 4 lakh only for such a huge property ? I have been raising the issue of apple, pear and plum growers of Kashmir whose trees are to be axed during land acquisition by NHAI for Srinagar Ring Road. Infact farmers early this year had obtained a stay order from High Court because horticulture department had prepared vague estimates in Budgam and Srinagar districts. When I came to know about injustice done with Mr Dubey , I feel this is not only an injustice but an act of slaughter and butchery. Thirty (30) Mango trees of 85 years of age can fetch Mr Dubey more than Rs 3 crores provided estimates are made correctly, but I feel pity on the horticulture officers of Jammu district who have made such indistinct estimates.
Pertinently mango trees have a life span of around 300 years and for next 200 to 220 years Mr Dubey's mango trees will continue to bear fruit. If an apple tree of 20 to 25 years of age can get a compensation of Rs 30,000 or 40,000 by horticulture department, why can't a huge 85 year old mango tree of alfanso or langda variety be provided 7 to 10 lakhs per tree ? I am of firm belief that Dubey ji's one single mango tree will fetch more than five hundred (500) quintals of timber and i can't understand why officials from horticulture department have not taken these things into consideration ? In addition to it Mr Dubey 's orchard land has a market value of Rs 60 lakhs per kanal but the same is being forcibly acquired @ Rs 5 lakhs only per kanal as stamp duty rate in the area is 10 to 12 times less than the market rate.
Conclusion
I appeal Governor his advisors and Chief Secretary to constitute a high level enquiry team to probe these irregularities. Government must at any cost repeal J&K Land Acquisition Act 1934 and bring in a new legislation which is at par with the central law ie Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency under Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act (RTFCLARR Act 2013). J&K state being a land deficient state with average land holding of mere 4 kanals (1/2 acre) should in-fact be provided better market value of land but we are even denied the market value of land. A committee must be constituted to clear the disparity between market rate and stamp rate in Jammu & Kashmir especially in Jammu , Srinagar & Budgam districts. I feel really upset that people in Jammu especially the farmers from Samba , R S Pura and Marh who elected Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) during 2014 assembly elections have been deceived by their respective legislators as they could not even raise the issue of forcible land acquisition at various forums. Except on one occasion Chowdhary Sukhnandan BJPs former legislator from Marh had tried to raise this issue in assembly but he was asked to remain silent by his own party leaders . Similarly leaders from PDP, National Conference and even Congress have been tightlipped over the issue of forcible land acquisition in Jammu & Kashmir.
Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is Founder & Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement. He is Convener Ring Road Land Owner Welfare Committee.
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