By Our Reporter
ISLAMABAD, Feb 19: The would-be affected people of Karakoram Highway upgradation project in the Northern Areas have called upon President Pervez Musharraf not to repeat the injustice meted out to them at the time of the highway’s construction and compensate them to their satisfaction.
In a letter to the president, landowners, hoteliers and shopkeepers, who are likely to be affected by the upgradation of the highway, regretted that the government had not paid adequate compensation to them when the strategic highway was opened in 1978.
“We were paid compensation for only 38.5 feet of land and later were stopped from building hotels, shops within 65 feet area which was against national and international laws. Due to this the affected persons moved the courts of law. But ironically the same rule of 65 feet was not applied in other areas like Mansehra, Bisham and Kohistan, etc., from where the highway also passes.” Now when the Chinese engineers have completed the survey for upgradation of the highway, and the president has inaugurated the work on the project, the people of the Northern Areas, who solely depend on the land for their livelihood, urge the president to pay compensation to the affected persons in dollars keeping in view the international strategic importance of the highway.
The district councillors and All-Hunza Union Council Central Committee have also demanded proper compensation to the affected people of the project.
In a meeting recently, they also demanded an additional seat for Hunza in the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly.
Meanwhile, an action committee has been formed to safeguard the rights of people who would be affected in HunzaNagar by the planned expansion work on Karakoram Highway. Advocate Ehsan Ali has been elected chairman of the action committee.
The committee has demanded that all concerns and apprehensions of the local population should be addressed before starting any work on the KKH.
In a statement issued here, the committee said the status of the Northern Areas was disputed and the government cannot use its land without taking consent of the local people.