“I invested Rs 1 lakh on the bajra crop last month. But all this will be gone once land acquisition happens,” sighs Ashok Kumar, pointing to a lush green field. Uttar Pradesh government will be acquiring 1337 hectares of land for the proposed Jewar international airport in Gautam Buddh Nagar district in the first phase of the project. A total of 5926 families will be affected. Ashok’s 21-member household will have to leave their village Rohi and start life elsewhere. In the first phase, over 1337 hectares will be acquired from six villages, affecting 5926 families.. A total of 5,000 hectares have been earmarked for the Rs 15,000-20,000 crore project. The airport is expected to be operational by 2022-23.
Ashok was among the 200-odd landowners who submitted their consent to land acquisition last week, following hectic parleys by local MLA Dhirender Singh, who quit the Congress to join the BJP ahead of the 2017 assembly polls. The consent of these landowners was crucial under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, which stipulates that at least 70 per cent of affected landowners must agree to having their land acquired before any acquisition takes place.
“The percentage of consenting landowners has crossed 75 per cent now,” says the MLA. “I made door-to-door visits for convincing villagers that the airport will bring development.” Rohi was one of the six villages that had been refusing to allow land acquisition for the project, which has been in the pipeline since 2001. The other five are Dayanatpur, Kishorpur, Parohi, Ranhera and Banwari Bas.
“The government has been sent the details of the agreements and once it takes the final call, a notification for land acquisition will be issued as per Section 11 of the Act,” says Prabhat Kumar, chairman of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), nodal agency for the project.
Ashok and other farmers from Rohi village, however, claim their consent was only for the airport, not for parting with their land in lieu of the compensation offered. “We signed the consent form after the MLA and the district magistrate spoke nicely to us, but we are yet to get a clear picture on compensation for land,” he says.
Another farmer, Praveen Kumar, has no intentions to give up his three hectares until four times the market value is offered as compensation, as stipulated in the Act for rural areas. Locals allege that their villages were designated as ‘urban’ as then only twice the market value needs to be paid.
While some villages such as Dayanatpur and Ranhera had been made ‘urban’ two years ago, other like Rohi and Parohi were notified as late as May this year. It was also in May that the negotiations began in which the administration settled for Rs 2,300 per sq m.
“Our circle rate hasn’t been revised since 2014, while neighbouring areas in Greater Noida enjoy a fair rate. So we stand to lose on the compensation front,” says Om Prakash, a 70-year-old farmer from Ranhera. In fact, the residents of Parohi, the last village to submit its consent, had written down their demand of Rs 4,000 per sq m on the consent form.
“Almost 100 villages have been notified as ‘urban’,” says the YEIDA chairman, insisting it was their prerogative to notify some villages under the industrial township, and that funds have been allocated for its development. “But where’s the development?” asks Jagan Lal, another farmer from Ranhera. “Our village has no hospital, school, college and drainage, all essential features of any urban set-up.”
Besides the conflict over compensation, the rehabilitation of those who would be displaced from their villages has not been properly addressed either, alleges Poonam Singh Chokhar of Dayanatpur village. With the Bhatta-Parsaul land acquisition protests of 2011 still on their minds, the locals warn they wouldn’t hesitate to go on a war path if the government pays no heed to their demands.
District Magistrate Brajesh Narayan Singh, however, claims the administration has zeroed in on the land for rehabilitation. “The affected people will be settled in a developed area with the necessary infrastructure in place,” he says. “The villagers will get a residential plot half the size of their current dwelling. A member from each family will also be given a job at the airport.”
2001: CM Rajnath Singh floats the idea of an airport
2010: CM Mayawati revives the idea
2012: CM Akhilesh Yadav scraps the project
2016: SP government proposes the idea again, but differences with the Centre delay execution
2017: CM Yogi Adityanath restores the project
2018: UP government begins the process for land acquisition
First Phase Of Acquisition
- Rohi, Dayanatpur, Kishorpur, Parohi, Ranhera and Banwari Bas in Gautam Buddh Nagar’s Jewar tehsil
At a Glance
- 1,337 hectares Total land to be acquired
- 1,239 hectares Private landholdings to be acquired
- 98 hectares Government land
- 5,926 Families to be affected
- 1,775 Families to be displaced