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Construction of East-West Corridor: Affected people protest in Dima Hasao, demand compensation

First Published: 16th October, 2023 15:08 IST

The Indigenous Students Forum (ISF) has warned that the agitation will continue until the demands are fulfilled

Connecting the East-West Corridor, from Gujarat’s Saurashtra region to Silchar in Assam’s Barak valley was a dream project of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

This 3,300 km long route, passes through Assam’s Dima Hasao district and covers 2 stretches: Narimbanglo-Jatinga section and Jatinga-Harangajao section of NH-54.

But people in at least 29 villages in the hill district, who have been affected due to land dumping owing to the construction of the mega project are unhappy. They took to the streets demanding adequate compensation from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) which has allegedly been deliberately ignored for long.

Protestors in large numbers led by the Indigenous Students Forum (ISF) blocked the road at the Jatinga point demanding that their demands be fulfilled soon. It has been alleged that the NHAI has even ignored Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s order to compensate the affected people.

ISF president David Keivom said, “Today we have begun indefinite dharna at Jatinga Point, we are the land owners of 29 villages. It was announced that we would be compensated by the NHAI and the Railway. The Railway has already given us compensation with the intervention of then Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in 2020. Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma also told the NHAI on 25 January 2022 in a meeting to compensate us. The NHAI also had agreed to do so. Whatever necessary bill was required to be given to the NHAI by the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) was already handed over. But the NHAI despite being told by the Chief Minister or the Home department to give us the compensation, is not paying heed.”

The protestors also demanded for blacktopping of the Jatinga-Harangajao section of NH-54 affected due to the East-West Corridor Project.

ISF president Keivom said, “The NHAI had also said that it would do black topping of the Jatinga-harangajao road, we said it should be done within a month, but they sought 6 months to do that. But 9 months have passed, the road is still the same, it has further deteriorated. So today we have come out seeking immediate compensation and black topping of the Jatinga-Harangajao road.”

“945 families have been affected due to land dumping. The bill amount is Rs 32 crore as presented by the NCHAC to the NHAI. But NHAI is making excuses,” Keivom added.

The ISF has warned that the agitation will continue until the demands are fulfilled.

The corridor project to connect south Assam’s Silchar with Gujarat’s Saurashtra (via road) was announced by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on October 10, 1998.

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