Srinagar Ring Road: Farmers allege damage to orchards and mustard crop

Budgam- Affected farmers in Wathora Chadoora in central Kashmir are showing strong resentment against the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), NKC Pvt Ltd and Budgam District Administration as JCBs were put into operation to uproot fruit trees and damaged standing mustard crops. Farmers who received no compensation for the land allege the JCB damaged their crop and looted fruit trees

Affected farmers said in a statement that hundreds of apple and plum trees have been uprooted in the past two days and more than 100 kanals of land with mustard crops have been damaged. Affected farmers said they had not received any compensation so far and that the government was forcibly encroaching on their farmland.

“Some farmers participated in land compensation, but many did not. How can JCB damage our mustard crop when me and my extended family haven’t even received a penny? The rewards were not prepared in time, they lapsed for a long time. It is cruelty. We need justice,” said local resident Gulzar Ahmad Akhoon.

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in association with the Budgam District Administration and the private company NKC Pvt Ltd has started felling mature apple and plum trees at Wathoora Chadoora which fall under the ring road project alignment of Srinagar. The apple growers allege that the government paid them compensation according to the 1996 tariffs when the wholesale price of apples and plums was only Rs 16 per kg in the market.

“The compensation for the fruit trees has also not been fully paid. The High Court has intervened and issued an interim order in our favor as our sentences have lapsed and the government continues to plunder our lands and crops,” said local resident Bashir Ahmad.

Earlier in Gudsathoo village, more than 500 mature apple trees were felled last year and the valuation was made according to the 1996 rates which are 7 to 8 times lower than the current value.

“We would have liked to be warned in advance in order to try to transplant the apple or plum trees. Even our little apple trees have been uprooted,” says another farmer Ghulam Mohammad

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