Some of the farmers have insisted that they bought the land off Karbala locals more than two decades ago but authorities say the sellers had no right to dispose of the land so the property deals were worthless.
The new airport must be built, Karbala governor Aqeel al-Turaihi said, adding that this was a strategic project for the region that couldn’t be abandoned because it would bring hundreds of jobs and much revenue - but that it should be done legally.
And after the last demonstrations which saw protestors from the farms blocking the road connecting Karbala and Najaf, al-Turaihi announced that all the farmers would be compensated. “We have provided them with farmlands,” he said. “And we will contribute toward the cost of digging new wells. We will also compensate them with money for the facilities they have to leave behind on their farms.”
Some locals are still not convinced though – they believe the farmers may have a point about how important their work is to the region that is worth looking into. “The airport is an important project and it could bring many benefits to the region,” local politician Jawad Al-Attar told NIQASH. “But it would be important to conduct a feasibility study first, to ascertain which is actually more important: the farms or the airport?”
(Tomato image via Shutterstock)