Predicament of NH-202 construction in Ukhrul district

Luingam *

The people of Ukhrul district in general and the denizens of Ramva village erstwhile Lambui village in particular where NH-202 road construction is going on at present express our immense happiness and gratitude to the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India Shri. Narendra Modi and his Government for the initiative taken up for the construction of NH - 202 in Ukhrul district.

With the coming of a new Government at the Centre immediately changed the policy of Look East into Act East Policy bringing along with it many developmental works among which construction of NH-202 is one.

Let me quote here again what Mr. Gulay Maloc had rightly said, "Roads make a crucial contribution to the economic development and growth and bring important social benefits. They are of vital importance in order to make a Nation grow and develop. In addition, providing access to employment, social health and education services makes a road network crucial in fighting poverty.’ Likewise, it is the aspiration of the people of Ukhrul district that NH-202 be the harbinger of all developments for Ukhrul district.

Thus, for the sake of development we are ready to part with our land provided we are awarded adequate, fair and just compensation as mandated by the National Highway Act. Nevertheless, we were saddened to see the order of the Deputy Commissioner Ukhrul, dated 31/10/ 2020 which specified the rate of land compensation as Rs 40/- Sq. ft. for cultivation, Rs 120/- Sq. ft. for homestead/ residential, and Rs 200/- Sq. ft. for commercial inclusive of all components which is far too less in comparison with other tribal States of India and it is also too less to consider as compensation at a time when 1 Kg. of local rice costs Rs 60/- in the prevailing local rate.

So far as the profile of Ramva village is concerned, it is the link point as well as the commercial hub of 5 neighbouring villages and it is also the nerve centre and confluence of 4 inter-State roads. So, comparatively the land value and rate of Ramva village is much higher than any other villages of the district. As such, the people of Ramva village are not pleased and satisfied with the fixation of land value of the village in comparison with and equivalent to that of Tolloi village by the former Deputy Commissioner, Ukhrul.

In this so called inopportune phase of time while the people of Ramva Village still remain discontented and unsatisfied over the issue of low fixation of rate of land compensation the concerned past district officials have categorized our lands which ought to be commercial as homestead /residential and homestead as cultivation.

Besides, the plot of lands located at the same area and also at the same line of alignment in the road way have been intentionally and categorized differently at the disposal of the past officials. Keeping in view of the right to fair compensation and transparency in land acquisition continuous and repeated approach had been

made to the district authority concerned for verification and further rectification of error and discrepancy found in land classification. However it is disheartening to see that the appeals had fallen on deaf ears with no sign of positive response from the authority.

The order of the Deputy Commissioner, Ukhrul Vide No. 10/157/2020-Rev(Ukl)pt/0360 dated 22nd December, 2021 and No. 10/157/2020-Rev(Ukl)Pt/0378 dated 10th February 2022 regarding verification of land classification which he claims to be the directive from the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur bears only half-truth and false information because of the fact that verification of affected land of Ramva village was carried out only partially without covering the whole affected lands of the village.

Such misleading orders from the respectable and responsible Deputy Commissioner supressing the fact and aspiration of the affected land owners had only worsened the situation leading to public unrest and discontentment. Why are victims ignored for so long ? Yes, we live in a society of victimization.

The poor and ignorant land affected owners are left to be humiliated and compelled to bear the brunt of losing the fair and adequate compensation. Amidst all these turn of events time and again the NHIDCL and revenue officials had been emphasizing on the fact that 3A order once published and land classification and ROW once finalised cannot be changed and altered under any circumstances and that 10 percent quantum has also been already utilised.

It is pertinent to mention here that there has not been any complaint about the ROW neither from the land affected owners nor by the village assembly to pursue for change of ROW. Notwithstanding this, one big question remains unanswered as to why the NHIDCL had marked the ROW at different lines, at different times using red, green and yellow colours all through these years.

Will it be wrong to assume that the technical staffs engaged to conduct the surveys and ROW using GPS are not competent enough due to lack of expertism or is it that some reservations are being made to keep space for manipulation and exploitation ? Over and above, the purpose and credibility for initiation of a new ROW conducted between the last part of June and 1st part of July 2022 led by NHIDCL officials remain highly questionable.

As a matter of fact vide D.C. office Order No. 10/ 1571/202-Rev(u)/2144 dated 31/0ctober/2020 amount for land and structure compensation had been notified and accordingly affected land owners had withdrawn the land compensated amount with only compensation for structure remaining due to be compensated. At this juncture, it is rather odd from the NHIDCL side to carry out a new row superseding the previous notified orders.

These irregularities and discrepancies arising out of the change of row have caused a lot of inconveniences and confusion among the land affected owners. The irony of this new development lies with the fact that compensation proportionate to the affected land based on the previous ROW survey had been paid. likewise compensation has also been paid for a small affected land based on the previous ROW while the new ROW affects larger portion of land and vice versa and the same is the case with structure and others.

Thus, it has become serious bone of contention among the land affected neighbours whose houses are situated on each of the opposite side of the road and thereby leading to suspicion, hatred and enmity among themselves. It may escalate to altercation and dispute and it may even cause hybrid disaster in the long run. So the general public are ridden with suspicion over the possibility of involvement of a few individuals with vested interest to disrupt the whole construction process of NH-202 in Ukhrul district.

Two and a half years have passed by and concrete solution to the impasse and deadlock remains far from over particularly for the land affected owners of Ramva, Shokvao, TM Kasom and Litan. It is worth reckoning an old adage which says - “Procrastination is the thief of time, it is also the breeding ground for corruption” and that the land affected owners have nothing to do with the delay in settlement and also delay in road construction but they are rather looking forward for speedy completion of the road at the cost of just compensation.

There may be, therefore, some questions left unanswered but it also left the door open for the possibility of peaceful settlement through mutual understanding and agreement to the prevailing predicament. So the best solution and means to do away with the ongoing impasse and deadlock, which I believe is the voice of the people, is to abide by the Deputy Commissioner Ukhrul order N0:10/157/202-Rev(u)/2164 dated 31/ 0ctober/2020 and follow the ROW notified through this order provided that the downgraded and error in classification of land is corrected down to the last detail.

Having raised all these issues at hand appeal is being made through this medium to the highway authority,

Delhi and the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri N. Biren Singh whom everyone looks up for his dynamic leadership and solid stand against corruption to take hold of this situation with a view to bringing about amicable solution.

The views expressed here are endorsed by
Wungreishang AS of Ramva village,
George Hollson Zimik of Ramva village,
KS Nganranshang of Ramva village,
Ralungla Zimik of Ramva village,
Berenice Kasar of Ramva village

* Luingam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is advisor, BJP Ramva, Ukhrul District Manipur.
This article was webcasted on July 21 2022 .

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