iconimg Thursday, September 03, 2015

N Ananthanarayanan, Hindustan Times
Greater Noida, October 29, 2011
The gleaming approach road abruptly turns into one barely fit for a cart path as the vehicle swerves into the perimeter of India's latest pride, the Buddh International Circuit, where the nation's dreams of hosting the Formula One race have been realised. Dust liberally floats in the dry, early winter air, briefly reducing visibility to near zero as a few motorcycles and a car jostle to get ahead on the narrow stretch. More fine dust adds to the evening haze from a mountain of crushed stones left over after building the brand new circuit. Then one is into Atta village, or what is left of it after land was acquired for building the sprawling complex.

Having passed by an array of fancy cars, many of its occupants hurrying to keep date with various celebrity shows planned around the inaugural Indian GP, Atta provides a moving contrast. Life on the fast lane is confined to the walled enclosure, the bright lights of the main grandstand clearly visible.

The village is swarming with UP policemen, drafted in for the outer security ring for the race.

One group stands before a multi-purpose shop while the rest of the personnel are distributed on both sides of the grimy lane.

Some chat by the water pump near the fields. One policeman is majestically perched inside perhaps the only barber shop in the village, having a shave.

"What do we have to do with this car race," says an elderly man, walking away with a can of milk without giving his name. Each one of the dozen or so shops in the village can be seen playing host to cops, almost every stool and bench taken.

The Dankaur village across the Yamuna Expressway that divides it from the BIC complex is slightly farther away. There are fewer security personnel around than Atta. The two villages had seen protests against land acquisition for the track, complaining of inadequate compensation or being persuaded to give up their fields.

"We face problems when the road is blocked for security," said Md Sarfaraz, a chemist.

"The power outages have become acute in the last few days; we go without electricity from 5.30 pm to the morning."

"All we get is the headache of cars roaring."