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UP Farmers suspect Adityanath govt wants to underpay them for Jewar airport land

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 22 June 2018, 17:56 IST

The Jewar greenfield airport project in Uttar Pradesh seems headed for turbulence. Farmers whose land in Gautam Buddh Nagar was marked for the airport alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is shortchanging them.

To fast-track land acquisition, the Adityanath government on 28 May signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), Greater Noida and Noida. The airport was expected to be completed in 2022.
For the first phase 1,500 hectares, is needed, for which six villages have been identified.

Farmers were irked because just before the signing of the MoU, the government changed the land use of two villages from rural to urban.

The two villages, Dayanatpur and Randhera, accounted for 900 ha, more than half of what is needed.

Changing the land use status would reduce the compensation their owners would be eligible for. Compensation was pegged at four times the circle rate for rural land but only double the circle rate for urban land.

Circle rate is the price of land fixed by the administration. It varies from one area of a district to another, depending on their deemed importance.

Feeling duped by the government, farmers of all six villages have threatened to do a Bhatta Parsaul. Agitating farmers there had clashed violently with the administration over land acquisition during Mayawati's regime, leading to four deaths.

At present, upset farmers held protest meetings from 28 May to June 2 and said they would not accept compensation. About 500-600 farmers from every village reportedly attended the meetings daily.

While the district administration is said to have forwarded the farmers’ viewpoint to the state government, Dhirendra Singh, the BJP MLA from Jewar, said that he too apprised Adityanath of the simmering anger. As the social impact assessment was still on in these villages, he was hopeful his government won’t let the farmers down.

Singh said the started 18 May, when the state government issued a notification imposing Section 12A of UP Industrial Act on 16 villages of Jewar, ending Panchayati Raj and declaring them urban. The timing of the land use change was unfair as farmers would get reduced compensation, he added.

Farmers were paid four-times the circle rate for the land acquired for Eastern Peripheral Expressway, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi a day before bye-elections to the Kairana Lok Sabha constituency.

The area in contention is part of the same district, and Singh said he was finding it difficult to convince farmers to agree to the land use change at the start of the acquisition process.

Singh, on the pillion of whose bike Rahul Gandhi rode to Bhatta Parsaul after the 2011 violence, found the situation especially embarrassing. He feared the project could be shifted to either Haryana or Rajasthan if the farmers decided not to yield.

But why did the government decide to underpay farmers? One report said that the government did not have the Rs 4,000 crore it needed to pay in compensation.

According to government sources, a total 3000 ha was required for the project, out of which 1,441 ha was needed for the initial phase. Denying a shortage of funds, a sources said the state’s civil aviation department would contribute Rs 1,500 crore from its budgetary allocation and the Noida Authority would match that. The Greater Noida Authority and YEIDA are to fund Rs 500 crore each.

First published: 22 June 2018, 17:56 IST