Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Construction of Greenfield Airport damage houses in nearby villages

Tamanna Tamang

Pakyong, 13 March
The state government’s ambitious Greenfield Airport project at Pakyong in East Sikkim has come under controversy after the construction work started taking its toll on nearby houses.
The construction work that was on in full swing has affected as many as 150 houses in the nearby villages of Naya Busty, Passthang and Karthok. The houses have developed cracks, while some have started to fall apart. And needless to say, the locals there are now living in constant fear.
The wall built for the runway of the airport has caused a portion of land to cave in, due to which many villagers have vacated their houses, while many of them, who have no option at hand, are living in houses that are full of cracks.
Though the villagers say they are all ready to move out of their ancestral land and relocate elsewhere, all the department concerned has given them so far is assurance.
With the monsoon season only a few months away, the villagers are worried what will happen to them when the rains finally start to come down.
The villagers have now started hitting the streets to press for their demands for proper rehabilitation. 
They also halted the construction work since March 6, but the work resumed today, following yet another assurance from the officials concerned.
“We are on the roads to make our demands and problems heard,” a local resident, Bikash Gurung, said. He however, added that the villagers are not against development and are only seeking an alternative.
In a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Mr Gurung, the Airport Authority of India has admitted that the houses have been damaged due to the airport construction work.
After the locals lodged frequent complaints at the Pakyong subdivision office, a committee was formed to look into the matter and provide compensation to the affected villagers. 
The state tourism department was made the nodal department that would look into the matter, while the compensation part was to be handled by the AAI.
However, the villagers claimed that the department concerned has been reluctant in taking initiatives.
The villagers also said they are not able to cultivate their land due to the huge cracks in the fields, while water sources have dried 
Even the roads have caved in, making it difficult for students to go to school, the locals said.

Source: The Statesman, 14 March 2013

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