KKH expansion plan: People seek payment of compensation

18 June 2009
The Dawn
Zulfiqar Ali Khan

Hunza: The affected people of the Karakoram Highway (KKH) expansion project in Gilgit-Baltistan have demanded payment of compensation in advance. The Hunza-Nagar KKH Compensation Committee, a representative body of the affected people, in this regard has requested the governments of Pakistan and China to ensure payment of compensation immediately. While talking to this correspondent, leaders of the committee said that the contractors had started construction works in the settled areas without any straightforward announcement of compensation which was a source of irritation for the poor people of the mountainous region. Mohammad Ali Akhtar ' member Northern Areas Legislative Assembly and chairman of the committee ' blamed the officials of the National Highway Authority (NHA), saying that they were creating hurdles in fixing reasonable land compensation. However, he praised the role of the Northern Areas administration in this regard. 'The government needs to take action before the situation gets worse in the area,' he said. Amanullah Khan, member of the committee from Hunza, blamed the NHA for allegedly violating international laws by constructing the road without fixing compensation rate. 'The KKH is an international project and the compensation should also be according to the international standards,' he said. Mr Khan demanded presence of NHA or settlement department officials on site to record the land, building, crop and other damages of the locals. The local communities have stopped construction work in the area where the KKH is being expended in Central Hunza and Nagar. The affected people of Gojal, in Upper Hunza where the expansion work has already started, complained about unrecorded damages to their properties. They showed concern over payment of compensations. A local farmer said that in order to construct a culvert, the contractors had damaged the whole orchard which was the only source of income for his huge family.