20 years on, orchard owners awaiting compensation

‘Land continues to be with Army since 1994’

Orchard owners whose land in the karevas of this South Kashmir town is with Army for last two decades have reiterated their demand for vacation of their landed property besides compensation.
According to the orchard owners, land measuring 991 kanals and 19 marlas at Fatehgarh, Qasba Bagat and Khirman Donipawa on the ‘High Ground’ is with Army’s Rashtriya Rifles (RR) since 1994 and they have not been compensated or given any rent till date “though we have suffered massive losses due to non-utilization of this land.”
The affected land owners said that even as the district administration has recommended their case for compensation/rent to the Defense Estate Officer, Kashmir way back in 2011, “but so far nothing has been done in this regard by the latter. “Till date we have not received even a single penny,” they said.
“We even approached Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah and Defense Ministry but to no avail,” they said.
The affected land owners said the orchards in the past would grow almonds, apple, and walnut thus giving them good returns. “But when Army took over the land, they chopped off most of the trees,” an affected orchard owner alleged.
He said by taking over their land, the growers have been denied the source of income.
“We fail to understand why the government is not shifting the army unit concerned to some other place so that the land is got vacated and released in our favour,” they said.
They said that 59 kanals of land was vacated by Army in 2004 to establish South Campus of Kashmir University. “Government should now get the remaining land vacated from the Army to set up Medical, Engineering and Polytechnic colleges in the town as well as building cricket stadium,” residents of Kadipora and Sarnal area of town suggested.
The residents cited the unavailability of land for housing as one of the reasons for encroachments in the town. “If the land is got vacated, Fatehgarh residential colony could be established,” they suggested.
PRO Defense when contacted said that he will look into the matter regarding paying rentals to the people whose land has been in possession of the Army.
Deputy Commissioner, Islamabad (Anantnag), Bashir Ahmad Khan when contacted said, “District administration recently held a meeting with Divisional Commissioner Kashmir regarding the rent payable to the orchard owners”. 
He said the issue (rent issue) has been taken up with the Defense Estate Officer and soon it will be sorted out and people whose land is with the Army will get what is due to them.

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