Now spotlight on land acquisition in Ghaziabad

By S.P. Singh, IANS,

Ghaziabad : Fingers are now being pointed at the acquisition of 8,700 acres of land spanning 18 villages in Ghaziabad for a “hi-tech city” even as the Uttar Pradesh government faces flak for acquiring agricultural land for private builders in Greater Noida.

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This time the land being acquired is for Hi-Tech City, a modern township, the licence for which had been granted by the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) to the Uppal Chadha and Sun City groups.

The 8,700 acres of area comprise land owned by farmers and the government. The government land, also called community land or Gram Sabha land, is controlled by panchayats.

Former GDA member Rajendra Tyagi alleges that around 450 acres of government land has been illegally transferred to builders by GDA for the project against the rulings of the Allahabad High Court and the Supreme Court.

“The Allahabad High Court had clearly stated in its Oct 1, 2007, order in the case of Crossings Republik that government land cannot be resumed for private purposes under Section 117(6) of the UP Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950,” Tyagi told IANS.

“The high court, in its final order in the same case, had quashed the commissioner’s notification for resumption of government land to transfer it to a private builder,” Tyagi said.

Further, a Supreme Court order Jan 28 declared that transfer of village community land for private and commercial use is illegal and directed the states to evict the encroachers, he said.

“This amounts to a gross contempt of the orders not only of the high court but the Supreme Court too,” Tyagi said, adding, “We would soon approach the court on the issue”.

According to Tyagi, village community land was transferred to the Hi-Tech builders at just Rs.1,100 per square metre which was then sold off to buyers at Rs.18,700 per square metre, while the integrated builders were selling the same priced land at Rs.35,000 per square metre.

The administration is paying Rs.1,000 per square metre compensation to the farmers while an equal amount is being paid to them as “motivational fund”, which Tyagi says is not taken into account in the official records.

Besides, the builder is paying the authorities Rs.3,000 per square metre to facilitate the acquisition for them, which too, he alleges, is unaccounted.

The land acquisition for Hi-Tech City has been on since 2006. Tyagi also claims the land of five villages – Qazipura, Dasna, Buyana, Nayfal and Bamheta — was acquired under emergency clauses using Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

In the last five years, there has been no development in these villages and no public purpose has been served as is the condition for an emergency acquisition, Tyagi charged.

In the five villages, the authority adopted the dual mode of acquisition by acquiring partial land under Section 17 and partially under 5A of the act, he said.

In several villages, land was forcibly acquired by the administration using security forces against farmers, he alleges.

As many as 774 farmers have approached the Allahabad High Court, filing 19 different petitions against land acquisition for the project.

The court has stayed the acquisition of all petitioners in the case of the Uppal Chadha group while in the case of Sun City, the court has ordered that the developer would not make the award in respect of the disputed land.

GDA vice chairman Narendra Kumar Chaudhary told IANS: “We are acting as per the state’s Hi-Tech City policy. No land was acquired under emergency provisions. We acquired it after notifying under Section 4 and 6 and by negotiating directly with the farmers. If anybody has objections, he can file them and we would reply to it.”

Asked if there was contempt of high court and Supreme Court rulings, Chaudhary refused to answer the question.

(S.P. Singh can be contacted at [email protected])