An estimated 300,000 homebuyers and home owners could be affected if farmers in 24 villages along the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway succeed in their agitation for the return of their land taken over by the Noida Authority in 2003.
On Friday, 400 farmers held a panchayat at Shahpur village, adjoining the expressway, where they decided to move the Allahabad High Court against the acquisition of their land on either side of the expressway.The spokesperson of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, an association of farmers that organised the meeting, Mahesh Asana said: "We will move court against the Noida Authority on Monday. When the Authority acquired our land, it promised that developed plots would be allotted to us as rehabilitation benefits." This has not yet been done.
The farmers will hold another panchayat on Saturday to "fine tune" plans to stall the construction of residential towers - being built by, among others, Japyee Group, Unitech, 3C and Purvanchal Group - along the expressway.
On July 6, the Supreme Court had upheld an Allahabad High Court order that had set aside the acquisition of 156 acres of land in Shahberi village in Noida Extension, a few kilometers away. The result: the authorities have to now recover the land they had allotted to real estate developers, demolish the half-built structure and return the land to the original owners. Many of these farmers now plan to sell their land at market prices, which is several times the compensation they were - or are now being - offered - by the government.
These lands were acquired by invoking the urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, which allows the government to dilute due process in case of an emergency.
But Noida Authority chairman and chief executive officer Balvinder Kumat told HT: "If this clause is challenged, then not a single sector in Noida and Greater Noida would be spared. All the sectors would be under a cloud… all projects threatened."
About 6,000 home buyers, who had already booked flats in projects coming up in Shahberi and now face an uncertain future, find themselves caught in this crossfire between farmers on one side and the builders and the authorities on the order.
This, and a similar order by the Allahabad High Court on July 19 with respect to land acquired from farmers in Patwari village, near Shahberi, has encouraged other farmers in the area to agitate for the return of the land, which, they allege, was taken over in violation of the due process of law.
Earlier on Friday, the samiti had stopped construction work at the Jaypee project site in Noida's Sector 128 (in Sultanpur village) off the expressway, protesting against the delay in allotment of developed land plots. Noida Authority officials said the work was stalled as the builder had allegedly blocked a key access road to Sultanpur.
"A reversal of perceived shortcomings in the acquisition process of the last 20 years is impractical. The entire Noida and Greater Noida Expressway development cannot be undone and land cannot be given back to farmers for cultivation," said Pankaj Bajaj, president of Credai NCR, the apex body of realtors in the capital and MD of Eldeco Infrastructure & Properties, a real estate company that has projects along the expressway.