The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the Mayawati government’s acquisition of 1,604 acres for construction of the Yamuna Expressway and 25 million sq m along the highway for developing residential and industrial townships.
Dismissing petitions challenging the 2009 notification of the Uttar Pradesh government, a bench declared the project was for a public purpose, for which land could be acquired under an emergency clause — that is without hearing the landowners.
The 160 km six-lane expressway is being developed on five parcels of land east of the Yamuna. The highway will be a high-speed corridor between Greater Noida and Agra.
“This is a typical example of the individual having to sacrifice his land for the public good,” the bench said. The handing over of 25 million sq m land to a private company for the creation of five zones for industry, residence and amusement would be complementary to the expressway, the court said. It disagreed with the petitioner that since the firm had paid the compensation cost, the acquisition was not for a public purpose.
The verdict, which could impact the farmers’ protests against the project, further held that the entire process of awarding the contract to M/s Jaypee Infrastructure was transparent and not a colourable exercise, as the petitioners alleged.
“We must point out that the project was conceived in 2001 when the present company was not in existence,” the bench said. It also referred to an inquiry by Justice Sidheshwar that gave a clean chit to the state.
The bench dismissed the allegations that land was acquired for the company. The court said the argument was a misnomer as the government would get the highway’s possession after 36 years. Till then, the company would manage the highway as per the Build Operate and Transfer deal. Similarly, land developed along the highway would be transferred back to the government once the 90-year lease period is over.
Reacting to the verdict, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti president Manbir Singh Tewatia said land could be acquired from farmers for development projects but “the government should be sympathetic to their plight”.
“The government should provide proper relief package to the farmers whose land had been acquired,” he added.