Gojal, October 4: Residents of Gojal Valley, Upper Hunza, have been deprived of around 45 crore rupees in compensation for loss of land due to expansion of the Karakuram Highway. Having started during the Musharraf regime, the expansion, realignment and repair of the Karakuram Highway has been completed with the inauguration of the five tunnels near the Attabad lake. The tunnels were inaugurated by the Prime Minister of Pakistan recently amid much pomp and show, promising prosperity for the locals.
However, the locals of Gojal Valley are still waiting to get the compensation money for the land they have provided for realignment and expansion of the Karakuram Highway. Not a single penny has been paid as compensation to anyone in the valley that stretches up to a 100 kilometers from Shishkat up to Khunjerav Top, where the Sino-Pak border is located.
“Opening of the tunnels is a very good step, but we need the compensation money to restart farming and revive our businesses to be able to benefit from the infrastructure”, Karim Jan, a local said. He accused the NHA and the district administration of using delaying tactics when it comes to payment of the compensation money.
The National Highways Authority (NHA) and the district administration are busy in a blame-game, each accusing the other of not providing enough staff or resources to complete the verification processes leading to payment of the overdue amount.
A government official, requesting anonymity, told Pamir Times that only three Patwaris are working with the NHA, responsible for keeping records of land and verification. These three Patwaris are reportedly expected to cover the region from Raikot to Khunjerab. Three more Patwaris who are allegedly getting salary from GB, are currently in their home towns somewhere in the Punjab, he said. The official named the three Patwaris, Mudassir Qazi, Amir Ali and a third person identified as Chaudhary, who are allegedly absent from duty for long, but getting their salaries regularly. The insider further said that under the current situation there’s no chance in the near future for release of the compensation amount. He revealed that verification of the compensation process has been halted due to sheer negligence of the NHA officials and lack of seriousness of the district administration and the region’s elected leadership.
It is pertinent to note that the compensation award has been paid to the people in central and lower Hunza, but the people of Gojal Valley have been kept deprived, despite of the enormous difficulties faced by them due to the aftermath of the Attabad landslide disaster.
The locals have blamed the NHA of being readily available to serve the Chinese private firm CRBC, while completely ignoring the hue and cry of the local people whose land has been used for a project of strategic importance.
“We are afraid that soon after the CRBC leaves, there will be no one to pay us the compensation. The damages caused by CRBC to personal properties also remain unpaid and nobody is raising a voice to compensate the poor farmers”, said Ahmad Ali, a local resident. He said that frustration is building among the people due to lack of interest from the administration and the elected leadership.