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Vimal Chander Joshi, Hindustan Times
Gurgaon, April 26, 2011
Arun Gupta, a farmer in Sazilwas, near Manesar, whose land was being acquired by the Haryana government against his will, is now a happy man. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s (SC) order pronounced on Monday, which has put all acquisition plans on hold. Like Gupta, there are many others who “own” over 1,100 acres of land, which were reportedly to be acquired by the government in a similar way. The government was to release the compensation amount to be paid to farmers this week.

Early this month, farmers had filed a writ petition, under the aegis of Fertile Land Protection Movement. On April 4, the court sent notices to government agencies, asking why no green study had been carried out before proceeding with the acquisition plans. “Earlier, we argued that no EIA (Environment Impact Assessment) had been conducted before proceeding with the plans to acquire the plots. The government has acted arbitrarily and violated Article 14 of the Constitution,” said Bhupender Yadav, counsel for the petitioners.

After the court’s notices, the district administration did not halt the acquisition process, on the pretext that it was not aware of any such notice.

The stay will, purportedly, put all speculations to rest and the fear of losing the land has frittered away, until the next hearing, if not forever.

“We even approached district commissioner PC Meena, after the court sent notices, and requested him that the process of awarding compensation must be avoided. But we didn’t receive any assurance,” said RS Yadav, a resident of village Mokulwas. He represents a farmers’ group in the litigation.

Farmers argued the consequences of mass land acquisition would be grave. They said the plots were highly fertile and blatant acquisition would lead to lesser produce.

Farmers relieved, can keep their land

About 6,000 acres were to be acquired to build Industrial Model Township (IMT) near Manesar extension. The process would lead to dislocation of many villages, including Kho, Kasan, Mokulwas, Kharakari and Fakarpur.

Around 1,100 acres of land was in the final stage of being acquired. It comes under Section 9 of the Land Acquisition Act, wherein farmers are paid relief. The apex court stay has given a breather to those owning 1,100 acres of land. They would have lost the land this week as the reward was due to be announced in two to three days.