The Noida Extension land row has forced the authorities to shelve the ambitious Noida-Greater Noida Metro project. The poor financial health of the Greater Noida Authority has led to the decision.
Two court judgments have scrapped the forcible acquisition of around 750 hectares of land in two villages. This and the pending court cases have made the fate of 1 lakh booked houses in Noida Extension uncertain.
The authority had taken loans and spent Rs. 4,000 crore on development and paying compensation to farmers of Noida Extension villages. It had allotted 3,000 hectares of land to over 60 builders for Rs. 30,000 crore to be paid in installments.
"Yes, the Metro project will have to be shelved. We mortgaged the acquired land and took loans from banks. Cash flow has stopped. We don't know how to repay the loans. We fear banks may attach property in case of non-payment. Not only Metro, all development projects will be affected. We will not be able to even carry out the maintenance of existing projects," said Greater Noida CEO Rama Raman.
With efforts on an out-of-court settlement with Noida Extension villages not bearing fruit, the authority may have to return the builders' money. Builders have already paid Rs. 5,000 crore to the authority. Plus, the authority has sold 3,000 plots for Rs. 250 crore. The allottees have deposited R50 crore in two installments, but they, like the builders, are also stopping payment.
"The authority will find it difficult to bail itself out by taking more bank loans. Banks give loans on the basis of the land the authority has. Land parcels are slipping out. The ownership of more and more land is being challenged in court. There's no money for new projects," said an official.
Work on the proposed Noida-Greater Noida line began two years ago and the construction was to take off soon. Tentatively billed at Rs. 5,000 crore, the project had its route starting from the last station in Noida (City Centre-Sector 32), and moving towards Greater Noida along the Expressway.
"Since 13 of the 22 stations were to come up in Noida, we requested the bulk of the project cost from the Noida Authority, but it has expressed inability," said an official.
Work stopped in Noida Extension
The Greater Noida Authority has stopped all development work in Noida Extension villages. Officials are troubled by farmers' demand for increased compensation. They want to convey a message that land rates go up because of development and once the projects are shelved, their land will lose much of its value.
"We have cancelled some project tenders. We are adopting a wait and watch policy. There's no settlement yet. Why spend more money in an area whose ownership is yet to be decided?" said a senior official.