HC pulls up State for failing to follow directions on compensation for Pakyong Airport affected

GANGTOK, 24 Sept:

As the Prime Minister NarendraModi inaugurated the Pakyong Airport today, the High Court of Sikkim pulled up the State authorities for failing to follow its directions regarding compensation for those affected by the construction of the airport.

After hearing the State and petitioners, whose landed property was damaged by theconstruction of the airport, the single bench of Acting Chief Justice MeenakshiMadanRai pulled up the state authorities and directed them to strictlycomply with the order passed by the High Court on 30 April, earlierthis year.

66 affected families had approached the High Court in 2016 stating that the affected families had not been properlycompensated. According to the petitioners, their landed and standing properties were damaged due toheavy construction of airport works, earth cutting on western side ofthe airport and vibration due to blasting and use of other heavymachineries in the construction site.

The State Agriculture and Horticulture department has only paid compensation for a year assessed for 2016-17. However the villagerswere not happy with the amount of compensation for their agricultureand horticultural products for a year as they say that they have lost theirproductivity since 2009.

The High Court in April earlier this year directed the stategovernment for assessment of all damaged houses, buildings damagescaused in and around thePakyong Airport and a report to be submitted by 30 June.Despite the court’s repeated directions, the authorities have not assessedthe loss of agricultural land, which has become uncultivable, nor have they come up with any response.

In the meantime, the State Government came up with a new legislationto deal with the grievances of the petitioners in the month of Juneand filed their response to the Commissioner Settlement of Claimsfor Loss and Damages in the month of July for payment of compensationto the persons whose property, land and crops have been damaged onaccount of construction of Pakyong Airport as per directions of theHigh Court.

As per the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, the agricultural land iscalculated four times of actual price in rural area along with centpercent solatium of houses and standing properties of the land. TheAct also said that the affected families have to be rehabilitated andresettled in proper way and also have to be provided one timeassistance grant and employment in the said project, which is yet to be provided.