Agitated over the non payment of compensation to the farmers of J&K for lands acquired from them for construction of PMGSY roads besides pathetic condition of roads and National Highways and multiple toll plazas installed in Jammu region, a strong contingent of NPP led by Harsh Dev Singh chairman JKNPP and former minister held a massive protest demonstration at Jammu holding black flags on the arrival of the union road transport minister, Mr Nitin Gadkari. The protestors alleging large scale work done liabilities in R&B, CRF and PMGSY sectors besides wrongful expropriation of land from farmers without adequately compensating them for their ancestral properties and proprietary holdings and structures raised slogans against the BJP govt and state administration. They were restrained by the huge contingent of police amidst minor scuffles with the security personnel who raised barricades to prevent them from marching ahead.
Ridiculing the Govt for its haughty and supercilious claims and vague announcements over connectivity in J&K, Mr Harsh Dev called upon the union ministers to first ascertain the fate of R&B projects earlier announced by them years back for J&K. Not only was the rural road infrastructure in shambles but most of the R&B schemes announced in 2014 and thereafter had been either abandoned half way or suffering cost over runs with none to take cognizance. The National Highway Project from Udhampur to Chenani presented the most deplorable plight with the construction work on the 26 km stretch lingering there on for the last seven years at a snail’s pace. And despite frequent traffic jams and fatal accidents having become a routine feature on the said NH, authorities concerned appeared to have buried their heads in the sand only to protect the delinquent contractors and other executing agencies. He further reminded the union road transport minister of his commitment of time bound double laning of Udhampur-Barmeen-Ghordi-Ramnagar road made by him in 2014 during election campaign at Ghordi and regretted that the said announcement too had proved to be a mere ‘Jumla’. And rather than constructing the double lane, even the existing single road had been badly damaged rendering it unfit for traffic. Likewise, the extremely bumpy, potholed and untraffic worthy Dudu Basantgarh road failed to invite the attention of the helmsmen despite various central ministers having visited the area several times during recent DDC and other elections and having made countless promises with the people. Seeking declaration of National Highway from Ramnagar-Basantgarh-Latti-Chenani, Mr Singh said that it could provide alternative route to the traffic plying to Srinagar and Doda.
Pointing towards the forcible expropriation of lands from farmers for PMGSY and other roads, Mr Singh strongly condemned the selective payment of compensation to farmers. While certain blue eyed and favourites were given timely compensation, others were made to run from pillar to post for seeking their legitimate dues with a corrupt system resorting to delay and deny for no reasons. There were hundreds of cases in Chenani and Ramnagar alone where compensation for even the residential houses dismantled as far back as in 2012-13 had not been paid with the PMGSY deptt and district collectors deflecting the blame to one another. Not only that the liabilities of contractors and mates remained unpaid for years. The state level authorities had been taking the plea of non release of funds by the centre despite announcements for the same having been made in 2014-15, 2015-16 and so on.
While the existing roads were in deplorable plight with no funds for their repairs and maintenance, the media announcements of new roads and funds provision by the central ministers had only created cynicism rather than appreciation, said Singh. He called upon the visiting minister for removal of the multiple toll plazas installed in and around the city of temples in conformity with the earlier assurances given on the subject from time to time.