An IAS officer restores peace in troubled NOIDA

August 3rd, 2011 - 5:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Noida, Aug 3 (IANS) Displaying a commitment rarely seen these days, a senior bureaucrat here has brought peace to scores of villages where angry farmers who lost their land had been planning a revolt.

The threat issued by farmers to cripple all development and construction in this prime National Capital Region has been nipped in the bud by Balwinder Kumar, the new pro-active chairman and chief executive officer of NOIDA.

While this 1981 batch IAS officer refuses to take any credit, the fact remains he has extracted a written undertaking from the farmers that they would call off their agitation.

Trouble was set to escalate in as many as 54 villages, spread across about 20,000 hectares of acquired land out of which modern NOIDA was carved out, when the officer stepped in.

Kumar did not buy peace by conceding the farmers’ demand for additional compensation against land that was acquired way back in the late 1970s and 80s.

Instead of moving around with armed guards, he visited village after village where he would call the farmers and hold one-on-one discussion.

“I knew it was pointless calling the farmers representatives to my office which seemed intimidating to them,” Kumar told IANS.

“Therefore, I chose to set out every morning at 7 and meet the villagers at their doorstep.”

Kumar remains humble about his achievement.

“Whatever I did was part of my duty. I made it loud and clear to the farmers that it was impractical to think of reopening the compensation chapter determined decades ago.

“At the same time I told them that we would sincerely resolve every other issue.”

Kumar, who assumed charge here less than a fortnight back, said: “They promptly came up with issues that had been hanging fire for too long. And there was no valid reason to turn those down.”

What the farmers seemed to be primarily interested in was development of the remaining part of their erstwhile villages that remained an eyesore vis-a-vis the developed Noida township.

They also sought fulfilment of an old commitment — return of five percent of their acquired land in the form of developed plots on payment of a nominal charges.

“That was no big deal. In any case, both the demands looked absolutely legitimate and feasible. I got instant support from the government, which is truly committed to the reasonable causes of the farmers,” he said.

How did he manage to give the farmers their due?

“Development, we have already started off. Yes, getting every farmer a developed plot equivalent to five percent of their acquired agricultural land is a bit tough exercise. But we have begun the exercise. I am quite confident we will be able to manage that too.”

According to him, these issues could have been resolved decades ago if the governments of the day had taken care to give the farmers a patient hearing.

“Instead of getting their due, the poor farmers received only rebuke, neglect and apathy.”

Kumar proposes to provide basic amenities like cement concrete roads and lanes, drinking water and sewage in pockets in each of the 54 erstwhile villages, a landmark step.

The once angry farmers are naturally happy.

Said Mahesh Awana, convenor of the Farmers Action Committee: “If someone had shown such gesture in the past, our problems would have been resolved years ago. One man has made all the difference.”

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