Forty-year-old Ashok Sharma, a resident of Bhatta-Parsaul area in Greater Noida, is stunned. His neighbourhood has suddenly changed. The F1 reality will take time sinking.
Barely 7 km from his village, which, for the first six months of this year, remained an epicentre of a bloody farmer movement seeking greater compensation for their land acquired for the construction of Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway, Ferrari and Mercedes cars raced amid the presence of national and international celebrities this weekend.
"The priorities have changed. Speed is no progress," he said.
"Nothing has been done in our villages. Before the race, the government prepared a blueprint to turn Bhatta-Parsaul into model villages. Officials promised to construct roads, drains, schools, crematoriums and community halls. It's all farce," he said. Land for the racing track was not acquired from Bhatta-Parsaul.
The race circuit is part of Jaypee Sports City being built for a million people along the soon to be operational Yamuna Expressway.
Those whose land was acquired for the racing track are equally disillusioned. Farmers of Bhuj Kheda, Atta Gujran, Salarpur and Navrangpur say the cacophony of racing cars has muffled their voices. Not everyone agrees, though. "A lot rides on such events, and the farmers were only trying to browbeat us. All compensation claims have been settled," an official said.
Farmers in Yamuna Expressway have alleged the authority has not done anything for industries. Industries would have generated jobs, they say. Farmers from many of the 30-odd villages located along the Greater Noida-Agra toll road have moved court, seeking their land back.
"Even the race drivers have been stunned by the living conditions and hoped that the benefits of the gala sporting event would trickle down to the poorest eventually," said farmer leaser Roopesh Verma. Policemen had been deployed in villages to prevent farmers from getting near the track. Many villagers complained that the track, snaking past their villages, had cut off traditional passages.
The organisers have their own stand. Senior vice-president of Jaypee Sports International (JPSI), Askari H Zaidi, said, "Nearly 8,000 people worked on the track for three years. The race has created jobs for many in various sectors. In the Sports City, we're building stadiums for cricket and football, courts for tennis and badminton. This will create many more jobs."