Faced with the prospect of agitating farmers derailing housing projects across Noida, Noida Extension and Greater Noida in Gautam Budh Nagar district, the UP government on Tuesday decided to accept their demand for regularization of inhabited areas in villages.
To this end, the government has formed a committee headed by the district magistrate and invested with special powers to settle regularization issues. In the normal course, the state Cabinet decides whether to regularize village habitations, on the recommendations of the district administration.
Regarding the composition of the empowered committee, district magistrate Hridyesh Kumar said, “The SSP of Gautam Budh Nagar, and Noida Authority representatives are also members.”
The committee, which has set Wednesday and Thursday for discussing the regularization question in Noida and Greater Noida villages, respectively, will target the nerve centres of the Noida farmers’ agitation on the first day. Noida Authority chief Balwinder Kumar told TOI that the committee would visit Sorkha, Shahdara and Parthala Khanjarpur villages that have been most vocal about their demands, on Wednesday.
However, speaking to the media just hours after Allahabad High Court ordered Greater Noida Authority and the farmers to chalk out a solution to the Noida Extension housing crisis before August 12, Kumar indicated that it might not be possible to fulfill the farmers’ demand for higher compensation.
“There is no possibility of increase in compensation for land which has already been taken. If the Authority hikes compensation for one village, the others too will demand more. There will be no acceptable cut-off date for such a hike. This is practically not possible,” Kumar said. He, however, added, “If the state government hikes compensation retrospectively, we will implement the order”.
The Noida Authority chairman said regularization of populated areas in villages is a genuine demand and should have been addressed years ago. “There is no lacuna in the land acquisition policy, but it was not properly implemented. We have come to know that, in 1952, some villages covered 10 acres, but with the passage of time and increase in population the habitation grew to cover 1,250 acres. At the time of acquisition, though, the 1952 statistics were taken into account. With the intention to provide relief to homebuyers in Noida, we are doing our best to address the farmers’ issues,” Kumar said.
Senior officials of the Authority visited four Noida villages on Tuesday as well and promised to withdraw all encroachment cases against the villagers. On their tour of Shahdara, Shahpur, Sultanpur and Nagla Wazidpur villages on Tuesday, Noida Authority chairman Balwinder Kumar also assured villagers that their demand for 5% developed land would be fulfilled.
The villagers expressed mixed views on the Authority’s assurances. “So far, we are satisfied with the Noida Authority’s stand but the confusion will persist until our demands are not met,” said Naresh Upadhyay, headman of Sultanpur village.
Farmers on their part again held a panchayat on Tuesday morning. Meeting under the banner of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti in Asgarpur village, the representatives of villages such as Raipur, Shahpur, Rohillapur and Gari threatened to blockade the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway if their demands are not met by July 31.