PANJSHIR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – “Eminent domain” is the phrase the Government of Afghanistan used when contractors demolished houses, shops, and land while building a road that goes through the valley of Panjshir a year ago. Families were displaced without warning or compensation – until now.
Members of Panjshir Provincial Reconstruction Team, representatives of the provincial government and contractors met, April 14, in an eminent domain payment session at the Panjshir Provincial Center. Those who wished to be compensated due to displacement came to the center, and after a quick verification process, were given upward of $790 worth of Afghan currency. This is a year’s salary in some cases.
This is the first time that a government in Afghanistan has compensated a family due to displacement, said Scott Davis, a construction representative for the Army Corps of Engineers attached to Panjshir PRT.
“People have just come in, regimes or dictators or whatever the case may be, and just taken what they want,” said Davis. “They weren’t compensated before.”
In total today, 63 families were compensated, with a total payout of around $60,000, said U.S. Army Capt. Phillip Baker, Panjshir PRT civil engineer.
The main role of the PRT during these payments was minimal – a success for the PRT’s role in helping the province and giving Panjshir the tools and resources necessary to conduct business on its own.
“We were just there as witnesses,” said Baker. “Every major decision was made by the provincial government officials.”
This was the second eminent domain payment. Two more sessions are planned in the near future.
“It’s about the people” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Curtis Velasquez, Panjshir PRT commander. “In the PRT, the people are the mission. The same goes for the provincial government. Giving compensation to these families that were displaced is a great example of the government at work.”
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