Sikkim | Locals affected by Pakyong project, want PM Modi to address grievances


GANGTOK | September 20, 2018:

With few days left for the inauguration of the Greenfield airport at Pakyong by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the locals who were affected by the airport project are hopeful that Modi would also address their grievances and provide relief in his address after inaugurating the airport.

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The residents who suffered damages of their houses and lands owing to the airport project today held a news conference and apprised of the damages caused and issues related to compensation and rehabilitation. The affected families who have filed a petition before the High Court of Sikkim maintained that inauguration of the airport before the final hearing of the case is sub-judice.

Legal counsel for the petitioners, advocate O.P. Bhandari said the airport matter is sub-judice as the final day of the hearing is scheduled a day after September 23, when the project would be inaugurated by the PM.

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"We feel as the airport matter is sub-judice and it is really wrong to inaugurate before the final hearing is held. It is also contempt of the court. Law is above all and it should be upheld," he said. Bhandari further maintained that the 400 affected families who have lost their houses and land have to be given justice.


As per Bhandari, the airport inauguration has also created a fear amongst the affected people that their damaged land and property would not be acquired. "We feel it is a conspiracy due to which we have also sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister informing about the current situation faced by the innocent, poor citizens of the airport construction site and the injustice. We are not against the development or the airport but we only want justice for the victim families whose land and the property has been damaged," he added.

The affected families have been demanding that the compensation for houses and land be paid as per the amended Land Acquisition Act rates. They further cited an affidavit submitted by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) stating that the project requires an additional 60 acre land towards hillside to construct protection walls. "Our only request to the PM is that the inauguration is rescheduled after the final hearing," they said.

Recently, the affected family members also met Governor Ganga Prasad and submitted their grievances on the airport matter.

Project affected member and petitioner Benup Dhakal said, "We are hopeful that the PM in his address will also speak about the victim, affected families and avail relief to our long pending demand. We are the citizens of the democratic nation but today our houses and lands have been damaged severely which is also unfit for farming or dwelling compelling us to lead a life of a refugee in our own place as justice till date has not been met. We request the authorities to safeguard our fundamental rights."

Another victim K.P. Bhutia said it's been many years that the people are suffering but the voices have gone unheard and if the airport is inaugurated without the demands being settled the dream of availing justice is crushed. We even plan to stage peaceful dharna on the inauguration day if our prayers are not addressed to, the affected families said.

Source: Sikkim Express