By Our Correspondent
UPPER DIR, April 10: The residents of Nihargah Lowari area in Upper Dir district staged a protest demonstration against the National Highway Authority (NHA) for not compensating them for their crops damaged owing to the construction of Lowari tunnel and road to Chitral.
The protesters criticized NHA for its failure to reconstruct a water channel it had allegedly destroyed during construction work and threatened to block road to Chitral if their demands were not fulfilled.
Addressing the protesters, Gul Hakeem, Rahman Zaheer, Ibadat Jan and Amir Sultan said that NHA destroyed a water channel, which irrigated 69 kanals agricultural land, during construction work of Lowari tunnel in 2006.
They said that their lands became barren owing to stoppage of water supply. The NHA pledged compensation for their crops also signed an agreement with the affected people to reconstruct the channel by March 2009, they added.
The protesters said that according to the agreement, NHA had promised to compensate them for their crops and if it failed to rebuild the channel by March 2009 it would continue to pay compensation to them.
“The NHA paid compensation for crops till 2008 at a rate of Rs800 per 50 kilogram but it failed to reconstruct the channel until now. It has not given us compensation for the last six years,” said Rahman Zaheer. He added that NHA paid them Rs3.3 million as compensation from 2006 to 2008.
Speaking on the occasion, Mohammad Zeb said they held a meeting with NHA general manager in Islamabad and informed him of the agreement and non-payment of compensation. He sent a two-member team, headed by Sheikh Anwar, to the area to probe the issue, he added.
“The committee constituted another committee comprising assistant commissioner, executive engineer of water management, tehsildar of Dir and an official of NHA to make a decision in this regard,” he said.
Mr Anwar said that the committee decided that NHA would pay compensation for another year instead of paying dues of the last six years. “To us, it’s unacceptable,” the protesters said. They added that NHA was bound under the agreement to pay them compensation for six years.
“NHA has also failed to reconstruct the water channel by now,” they said. They said that they launched a peaceful protest to demand compensation and reconstruction of the water channel. They said that the affected people would block road to Chitral at Lowari tunnel if their demand was not met.–Dawn