In what could signal fresh trouble for thousands of middle-class home buyers, the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to "work out alternative scenarios" for development of Greater Noida because of "present trends and critical parameters".
Construction at the proposed realty hub of Noida Extension which falls in Greater Noida has been halted for more than seven months because of non-clearance of Greater Noida's master plan by the NCRPB. About 2.5 lakh flats are planned, out of which one lakh are booked in Noida Extension.NCRPB chief regional planner Rajeev Malhotra, in a letter (dated June 6, 2012) to SN Shukla, Uttar Pradesh housing department principal secretary, said this after Greater Noida chief executive officer Rama Raman sent a revised Greater Noida's master plan (2021) to the NCRPB for early approval.
"Much like the buyers, we also put pressure on NCRPB… Land acquired for industrial development cannot be used for realty projects," said Dushyant Nagar, a farmers' leader.
The Allahabad high court on October 21 last year ruled that land would remain with builders and farmers will get increased benefits. But the court also said construction would not resume till the planning board approves the plan.
The NCRPB has postponed several meetings and the master plan remains unapproved.
The NCRPB has also questioned the plan submitted by the Greater Noida authority.
"Please inform if the master plan is approved by the Greater Noida authority and if the UP government agrees to it. Also inform if changes made to the plan have the approval of a competent authority," the NCRPB letter sent to UP government reads.
The NCRPB has also asked UP to expedite preparation of its sub-regional plan comprising several master plans for UP-NCR areas such as Greater Noida and Ghaziabad.
NCRPB makes regional plans whereas states make sub-regional plans. States' plans must be in conformity with NCRPB's plan. In response to NCRPB's 2021 plan made in 2005, UP is yet to finalise its sub-regional plan.
"In the absence of a sub-regional plan, local authorities, such as Greater Noida, made their master plans and got them approved by the state government. The NCR planning board was often not kept in the loop," said an NCRPB official.
Why approval is needed:
-- Non-clearance of land-use changes made to the plan (to create a housing hub in an area earmarked for industries) halted projects
-- Authority had acquired 3,000 hectares from 2005 to 2010 for industrial development in about a dozen villages today known as Noida Extension
-- In 2008, it changed the land use to residential (group housing) and continued with acquisition. Farmers began moving court in 2007.
-- 2,500 hectares was allotted to builders in 2009.
-- Trouble began in 2011 when HC returned land to farmers in two villages.
-- A larger bench of high court in October last year announced increased benefits to farmers and that said realty projects could go on only after the master plan was approved by the NCR planning board
The exercise so far:
October 20, 2011: HC says construction will not resume in Noida Extension till NCRPB approved master plan.
December 15, 2011: UP submits plan to NCRPB for approval. Plan is examined and placed before NCRPB's planning committee meeting.
March 21, 2011: NCRPB objects to massive acquisition of land despite a low population density. It sends its observations and suggestions to UP.
May 14, 2012: HC refuses to review its last year's order and rejects Greater Noida authority's plea that NCRPB's approval was not needed.
May 18: Greater Noida CEO sends copy of revised master plan to NCRPB, seeking early approval
June 5: NCRPB asks UP govt to work out alternative scenarios for0 Greater Noida's development, considering present trends and critical parameters.
Even if NCRPB approved Greater Noida's master plan anytime soon, projects may not start. Farmers of several villages have moved the Supreme Court to seek their land back. The cases could go either way. The issue of master plan approval will remain relevant only when the apex court does not set aside land takeover and land remains with builders.
Buyers say they hardly earn R15,000-25,000 per month and dream to have own houses near Delhi. For the last one year, they have been paying rentals and EMIs without any construction taking place. They say they are facing mental torture and have become financially handicapped. They held protests and moved court for plan's approval but nothing happened.