LAHORE-The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed its concern over the land acquisition being carried out to develop the Kartarpur Corridor.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the HRCP said: “The development of the Kartarpur Corridor will help improve Pakistan’s relations with India, this should not happen at the cost of people’s homes and livelihoods. Our fact-finding mission reveals that at least six villages will be affected by the land acquisition – two of which will be demolished entirely.

“The Ministry of Religious Affairs is said to have acquired 1,500 acres around the Kartarpur gurdawara. The deputy commissioner in Narowal estimates that another 1,500 acres may be required in the future. This land has been acquired under the colonial Land Acquisition Act 1894, which is skewed in favour of the state rather than those affected by land acquisition.”

The HRCP claimed: “Many small landowners say they have no knowledge of how the acquisition plan will be sequenced and whether they are even to receive any compensation – not only for their land, but also for the crops destroyed in the process. The residents of the village of Dodhy, which is home to 1,500 to 2,000 families, also fear it will be demolished, but they are unaware of any plan in place for their resettlement and rehabilitation.”

The HRCP expressed that any allegedly forcible evictions are unacceptable and the right to fair compensation must drive all land acquisition. Many of these families have lived here for generations and it is not clear how long they will have to wait to be compensated.

The HRCP urged government to ensure that no involuntary resettlement occurs until a systematic census and inventory has been carried out to the satisfaction of the residents affected by the project.