Dealing a blow to the Mayawati government and private developers, the Allahabad High Court has cancelled acquisition of land in three villages of Noida and Greater Noida and directed government authorities to pay higher compensation as well as developed land in 60 other villages falling in the vicinity.
The High Court ordered on Friday the suspension of any construction activity in the area where land acquisition has not been scrapped till the time it was ascertained by a Principal Secretary rank officer that the development work was in accordance with the norms laid down in the masterplan of National Capital Region (NCR) Planning Board.
Authorities would now have to return the acquired land in three villages of Yusufpur Chak Sahberi, Abdullapur and Devla which has been scrapped by the court. Farmers who have received compensation in these three villages would return the money to the authorities.
In 60 other villages, which fall in Greater Noida and Noida Extension areas, farmers will not get back their land but would receive higher compensation. The High Court bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan, SU Khan and Justice VK Shukla has ordered that the affected farmers in these villages be given 64% more than they have already got as cash compensation. Also, they would be given 10% of their acquired land after it has been developed by the authorities, subject to a maximum of 2,050 square yards.
About 491 farmers from 61 villages in Gautam Budh Nagar district had challenged the acquisition of more than 3,000 hectares of land by the government agencies invoking the urgency clause. They had contended that their land was acquired forcibly without hearing them out and they were handed out meagre compensation. Farmers had protested saying that while land was acquired from them at a pittance it was later sold to real estate players at a much higher amount who in turn sold it at a further profit to home buyers.
The court took the matter of forcible land acquisition seriously and said that it was grossly unfair to the farmers.
Remarking that “land acquisition is no longer a holy cow” Justice SU Khan said that “if on the acquired land, profit earning activity is being carried out, then the person whose land has been acquired has got full right to have some share in the profits. It is for this reason that during the recent past, in different parts of the country, there has been public opposition of various degrees to land acquisition”. While the verdict would provide enhanced compensation to most of the farmers in Guatm budh Nagar district there were reports that some may approach the apex court again for cancellation of forcible land acquisition in their villages as well.
Land acquisition troubles have been plaguing the Maaywati government Uttar Pradesh since last year and especially the Greater Noida belt where thousands of ordinary home buyers have made advance payments to several builders.
The forcible land acquisition and the arbitrary change of land use from industrial to residential came under focus when Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi sneaked into Bhatta Parsaul village riding pillion on a motorbike to avoid the state police in May, earlier this year. He went there to express solidarity with protesting farmers and later under took a footmarch through the area covering dozens of villages. It forced the Mayawati government to bring in a new land acquisition and compensation policy but it was applied with prospective effect denying any benefit to the protesting farmers of Greater Noida region.