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‘Buyers will get money with interest’

A Supreme Court judgment has given relief to farmers by quashing forcible acquisition of 156 hectares of land in Shahberi. While farmers have got back their land, thousands of middle-class buyers have been left in the lurch. Greater Noida chief executive officer (CEO) Rama Raman tells Darpan Singh that the authority is with the buyers and they will not be allowed to be cheated. Excerpts:

india Updated: Jul 13, 2011 01:34 IST
Darpan Singh

A Supreme Court judgment has given relief to farmers by quashing forcible acquisition of 156 hectares of land in Shahberi. While farmers have got back their land, thousands of middle-class buyers have been left in the lurch. Greater Noida chief executive officer (CEO) Rama Raman tells Darpan Singh that the authority is with the buyers and they will not be allowed to be cheated. Excerpts:

Despite your assurances that no buyer will be allowed to be cheated, buyers are looking anything but assured. Are you doing enough?
I have issued an order that all buyers, who booked flats in projects either planned or under-construction in village Shahberi, will get either refund with interest or relocation. Buyers can approach the authority if any builder is harassing them. You need a little time in grasping locational details of the dispute. I will convene a meeting with builders and this time banks will also be invited to know how buyers can be saved from problems they think they would face. The authority will bail out builders too, mainly to ensure buyers get their money back if they so wish.

Ever since the Greater Noida authority was formed in 1991, all land has been acquired using the urgency clause - something held illegal by the courts and used as a ground to quash forcible acquisition of land in Shahberi. More and more villages are moving court. How are you going to save the entire Noida Extension housing hub?
The case of Shahberi was different. A majority of farmers had refused to take compensation. In other villages it's not so. There are some disputes. But we're confident we will sort them out. Plus, in Greater Noida, only 15% of the land has been set aside for housing projects. Most of other projects are in public good for which use of the urgency clause is justified. In Shahberi, farmers were angry that the land use had been changed from industrial to housing. It's not happened in other villages. Even in Shahberi, we did not change the land use, we transferred it. We changed the land use of a similar plot nearby from housing to industrial.

High court is hearing other Shahberi-like cases. What's your strategy?
We have begun consultation with all such groups. We're trying to solve their problems. Farmers can meet me anytime. I don't have any hesitation. We're ready to meet them at any of the chaupals they so often hold. Farmers of four villages - Palla, Chitehra, Aurangabad and Austali - have agreed to sell their land directly to the authority without initiating the formal procedures of land acquisition.

Is there any fundamental change in the way you have gone about land acquisition?
We will not impose urgency clause (not hearing farmers' objections) anywhere now. Farmers will be heard even at places where this clause is already in force but land has not been acquired. We're making a major change to our land acquisition policy. So far, we acquired land first and later settled abadi disputes (returning the abadi land wrongly acquired from farmers or freeing encroached areas). This delayed allotment of developed land plots to farmers - a major cause for concern among farming community, often resulting in disruption of construction work at various sites of builders.