BATTAGRAM: The local residents affected by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project on Monday warned that they won’t allow work on the multibillion dollars initiative until commercial rate of their land and houses were paid to them.

The warning was issued during a news conference here. The landowners earlier visited the Chinese base camp in Kuzabanda area of Battagram district and asked the relevant authorities to immediately halt work on Matta Sofian-Chanjal route of the CPEC.

They complained that the district administration had asked them to vacate land and houses without consultation.

The landowners insisted that the area from Kas Pul to Chanjal was commercial and therefore, the government should give them the commercial rate of their property as happened in Mansehra, Abbottabad and Haripur districts.

Demand commercial rate for property to be acquired for project

Tehsil councillor Gul Mohammad, who was also in attendance, said unfortunately, the government didn’t properly compensate the landowners to be affected by the CPEC project.

He said the situation had forced the people to forcibly stop work of the CPEC in their respective areas.

Landowner Ahsanullah complained that the National Highway Authority informed the people of deduction of 15 per cent from the compensation amount.

He said the denial of commercial rate and unfair deduction from payments was unacceptable to landowners.

JI provincial deputy general secretary Mohammad Rafique, who was also present on the occasion, said the people, whose houses were to be demolished for the project, should be given alternate places to build houses after payment of the due compensation.

He said the land and houses located along the Karakoram Highway had commercial value but the government was unlawfully denying them that right.

Landowner Anwar Baig said the people of Battagram district would suffer huge losses if they’re not compensated properly for their land and houses to be acquired for the CPEC project.

He said the local residents weren’t opposed to the CPEC’s construction but wanted commercial rate for their property.

When contacted, deputy commissioner Sardar Asad Haroon said he had written to the commissioner of Hazara division seeking necessary action on the matter, while the NHA collector had also been told to properly address the landowners’ grievances.

“We (district administration) will try our best to convince landowners not to stop work on the multibillion dollars project,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 13th, 2017