Villagers raise war cry against Noida Authority

Farmers Against Noida Authority

FARMERS in Noida and Greater Noida, locked in a long and bitter fight with the authorities over acquisition of farmland where multi- storey residential blocks are coming up, on Sunday sharpened their attack on the Noida Authority.

The farmers warned they would stop all work of builders on both sides of the expressway if the Noida Authority did not fulfil a promise it had made to the villagers whose lands were acquired by August 5. The sabre- rattling came at a ‘ panchayat’ ( gathering) held at Sector 74, which was attended by farmers of Sorkha, Sarfabad, Barola, Salarpur and Kakrala.

“The Noida Authority CEO is new. So we are giving him more time to meet our demand. His deputy is also in touch with us. Frankly, however, authority officials have hoodwinked us repeatedly with false assurances. It’s one last chance we are giving them,” Naresh Yadav of farmers’ association Sorkha Jahidabad Kisan Sangharsh Samiti said.

Sorkha farmers said the Noida Authority was yet to allot them residential plots in sectors 74, 75 and 76 they were promised in lieu of acquisition of their agricultural lands. Instead, these sectors were sold off to private builders, they alleged.

The authority acquired nearly 650 acres in Sorkha and purchased another 120 acres directly from farmers over a period of time, in the years 2001, 2006 and 2010.

Each farmer whose land was acquired or purchased was eligible to get a plot in a developed sector five per cent the size of the acquired land. While many villagers of Sorkha, Sarfabad and Barola have got plots in Sector 112, scores of others were denied these plots on “ some pretext or the other”. “ The authority says they have held the plots back as we are encroaching on government land by extending our houses. The authority says they would give us plots of size not more than 450 sqm. We want to ask them where will we live and where will we keep our cattle?” Dharam Pal Yadav, a farmer from Sarfabad, said.

Sorkha villagers who have been given plots complained that no drainage or drinking water facility had been provided by the authority to their houses. The story is same in Khoda village. “The Uttar Pradesh government and Greater Noida officials have lost their mental balance and are unable to think sensibly.

We pray to God to give them wisdom,” villager Ranbir Pradhan said, as he prayed with villagers at a temple in Noida Extension’s Choti Milak village. The farmers said they would soon submit a memorandum to President Pratibha Patil apprising her of the current situation.

The authority and builders have caused irreversible damage to the local environment causing asthma and other respiratory diseases, they alleged. “It is disgraceful that despite an order from the highest court of the country, the authority is delaying returning land to Shahberi farmers and is speaking in favour of the builders,” Pradhan said. The Supreme Court had recently scrapped acquisition of land for builders in Shahberi.

CONTRACTORS JOIN FIGHT

A Fourth player joined the tussle between the Noida Authority, builders and farmers on Sunday — contractors. Claiming to speak for construction site workers, contractors working for builders and the authority said a court order scrapping acquisition of land for apartment complexes had left around 500 contractors and 60,000 labourers jobless. “ Farmers, builders and the authority are trying to guard their own interests. But nobody is talking about us, the worst victims,” Vikas Gupta, a member of the Noida Extension Contractors & Suppliers Association, said.

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