The Supreme Court’s decision to give the go-ahead to the government to acquire land from 13 villages in Chattarpur, South Delhi, for a proposed township has opened a Pandora’s box.
While several original residents are dead against the acquisition, another lot of people is looking forward to ‘quick’ acquisition.
But a common underlying concern from all is, “Will the government be able to pull it off?”
Facing a busy road in Satbari village, Jauddin and Shakruddin Tanwar said there was hardly any farmland in their village. “May be, just 15-20 acres land remains with three-four owners. Mostly, there are farmhouses now.””
The farmers, who had moved High Court and could retain their lands, are apprehensive of the acquisition process as “the farmhouses provide employment to people from our village,” they said.
Differed Ashok Tanwar, who has business in Chattarpur, “The township will provide employment opportunities to farmers, who are otherwise suffering due to lack of electricity and proper irrigation.”
Can govt do it?
“(But) the big question is — land which was cleared over the last few years has been encroached upon again. How will the government do it now?” he said.
A few kilometers away, sitting in front of a traditional haveli in Maidangarhi, 60-plus Mahender Singh, Dalip Singh and Azad Singh are not very happy with the way their lands were acquired many years ago.
After the original notification for land acquisition in 1980, around 6,000 bighas of land belonging to the Maidangarhi gramsabha and land totaling 3,000 bighas belonging to individuals was reportedy acquired at a meager Rs 9 per bigha.
The village did not receive any compensation for land that belonged to the community and what was paid to individuals was very little, they said.
“Master Plan provisions and all such things are okay. But the government should at least give us proper compensation. There is no provision of employment to a number of semi-literate and unemployed youth here,” Azad Singh said.
Pointing to the farmland next to his residence, Maidangarhi’s Pradhan (head) Nathu Singh said, “The government had gone ahead with physical possession of land from Maidangarhi and Rajpur villages. However, when the HC quashed a petition earlier in the 1990s, they stopped the process of paying compensation. As on date, we have neither received compensation nor allowed to do anything on our own land.”
Nathu Singh dared the government to acquire land where “influential people” have built their farmhouses.
However, it is not that all farmhouses will be acquired.
Claims lawyer R.K. Anand said, “Most farmhouses in Chattarpur will be saved. Actually, as per the original notification of section 4 of Land Acquisition Act, the land in respect of which building plans were sanctioned by the MCD before November 5, 1980 are exempted from acquisition.”
Brahma Singh Tanwar, former Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from the area, said, “People in the villages will benefit from the plan. We welcome it although there has been a lot of delay.”