Greater Noida farmers prepare for next round of battle

July 21st, 2011 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Greater Noida, July 21 (IANS) After a series of court verdicts in their favour, farmers here are now readying for the next round of battle against land acquisition — exposing the “corrupt” authorities who “forcibly acquired their farm land”.

Farmers in Itehera, Haibatpur, Bisrakh, Roja Yaqoobpur, Patwadi, Saini, Khodna, Khairpur, Milak Lacchi, Sadullapur, Vaidpura and Jalalpur villages Thursday distributed sweets to celebrate the recent Allahabad High Court verdict quashing land acquisition here.

The order comes close on the heels of the Supreme Court ordering the return of land to farmers in Shahberi village.

Ranvir Nagar, a farmer leader in Sadullapur village, said the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) scrapped Section 5 of Land Acquisition Act, which provides right to farmers to put their objections.

The abolition of the section was enforced in the entire Gautambudh Nagar district to rob the farmers of their land. In some cases, Nagar said, the farmers came to know that their land has been transferred to the Uttar Pradesh government only when they went to plough their fields.

When the farmers protested and contacted authority officials, they claimed that according to Section 17 of the act, the state had overriding powers to acquire their land.

The farmers now say restoration of their land is just half the battle — the officials who forced them out of their lands, and then sold it to builders at multiple times the compensation paid to them, should not be allowed to go scot free.

“Most of these officials - at the level of chairman, CEO, and others - who had served with the authority during the last four years should be probed,” Ranbir Nagar, coordinator of farmers’ body Gramin Panchayat Morcha, told IANS.

Farmers said they will soon approach the Allahabad High Court to seek a judicial enquiry and a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the entire episode.

Vowing not to be cowed down by the “blackmailing practices” of the GNIDA and builders, farmers also alleged that some real estate developers were bribing the litigants.

“The builders are luring some of the farmers who had filed petitions in the high court and have accepted compensation by offering them Rs.2.52 lakh per beegha to take back their case and grant possession rights to them directly,” said Satya Pal Chaudhary, Dehat Morcha leader on whose writ petition the acquisition of land in Shahberi village was quashed.

But amidst all the acrimony, there is one faction which is trapped in a no-win situation — the home buyers.

Delhi resident Pawan Singhal, who booked a flat in Supertech Eco Village in the so-called ‘Noida Extension’, said: “About a week ago, Supertech’s managing director and a few others appeared on TV saying that they would return their customers’ full money. They are now making a U-turn.”

“When we demanded our money back, they said they will return it only after the Greater Noida Authority pays back their allotment money. Also, they said the money will be returned without any interest,” he said, adding that the process could take a couple of years.

Investors said most of the builders have told them that they will deduct 10 percent of the total property value, apart from Rs.50,000 as their ‘processing charges’.

“While the banks continue charging interest from us at 10.5 percent and above, these builders have forfeited our amount. Twenty percent of our monthly pay goes towards paying the EMIs,” Sharad Pandey, another buyer, told IANS.

Ritesh Singh, who invested in the Panchsheel Greens project here, said it was middle-class people like him who were the real victims of the whole mess.

“We are all salaried, middle-class people. We bought property here as this was the cheapest in NCR (National Capital Region). The builders also claimed in their ads that their apartments are close to Metro stations, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad. We fell in their trap,” he said.

(S P Singh can be contacted at spsingh@gmail.com)

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