Rahul Gandhi meets NHAI officials over acquisition for widening NH-56
Demanding fair compensation to farmers and traders affected by the expansion works of a highway passing through Amethi, his Lok Sabha constituency, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday called upon officials of the National Highways Authority of India here.Mr. Gandhi reached the regional office of the NHAI, joining a delegation of farmers and traders, and submitted a memorandum in their support.The matter relates to the widening of NH-56 that passes through Kathaura gram sabha on the Lucknow-Sultanpur road in Amethi’s Jagdishpur area. The villagers allege that officials acquired farm land without paying adequate compensation and that their shops and houses were being demolished for the construction of a by-lane for parking vehicles on either side of the highway.Officials said that some shops needed to be demolished for the construction of a bus-lane.With senior leaders Raj Babbar and Jitin Prasada in tow, Mr. Gandhi discussed the issue with NHAI officials here in the presence of farmers and traders who had come from Amethi.Talking to media, Mr. Gandhi hit out at the BJP government accusing it of not following proper procedure in acquiring land. He asked the officials to re-evaluate the compensation to be given to the affected people.Rajeev Agarwal, NHAI regional director, said Mr. Gandhi requested the authority to shift the location of the bus lane so that the project was not hampered, while shops could also be saved from demolition.Mr. Agarwal said the authorities would look into the “technical feasibility” of Mr. Gandhi’s demands and respond within a few days.“We will see if it is technically feasible or not. Then we will inform him officially through our headquarters. We need to inspect the site with the consultants and examine various points first,” Mr. Agarwal told The Hindu.Mr. Gandhi raising voice for farmers and traders comes close on the heels of a dharna held in Ambedkar Nagar by Mr. Babbar, UP Congress president, under the party’s ‘Hakh Maango Abhiyaan.’Mr. Babbar staged an overnight dharna on Sunday protesting the local authorities’ alleged forceful demolition of houses of villagers, acquiring land without permission and not paying proper compensation to the affected.Mr. Babbar called off the dharna on Monday after officials agreed to fulfill his demands.