Manipur villagers cry foul over compensation, block work on rail tracks

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Imphal, Feb 19 (IANS) Residents of a tribal village in Manipur on Monday said they will not allow the construction of railway tracks in the area since they did not get compensation, which they claimed had been cornered by two villagers.

Residents of Marangching in Tamenglong district in Manipur said they will not lift the ban imposed on the boring of seven railway tunnels — which they announced on February 16 — to protest against a fraud of Rs 36 crore played on them.

Village head N. Goudamei said the Centre had sanctioned the money as compensation for land acquired from villagers for constructing the railroad from Jiribam bordering Assam to Imphal.

The villagers said they have learnt that two tribals took the money from Collector Armstrong Panmei, though it was not clear how the compensation meant for the affected villagers could be handed over to two individuals.

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They have been urging the authorities to recover the compensation money from the two and distribute it among the villagers whose land was acquired for the rail project.

A few villagers said that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had been assuring people of a corruption-free administration but had done nothing in this regard.

As a result of the ban on construction, the company allotted the work is incurring daily losses even as government sources said that security at the construction sites had been beefed up.

Officials and labourers cannot openly defy the ban and carry on with the project work since almost all of them are from outside Manipur and there have been incidents of mob violence in the past, including torching of private property and kidnapping of officials.

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North Eastern Frontier Railway officials said the ban will further delay construction of the rail tracks.

–IANS

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