Anthony T. D’Souza, 72, invested his life’s savings to buy a piece of land and build a house on it in New Palam Vihar.
In July 2006, D’Souza came to know that his home falls under the alignment of the 150-metre-wide, 17-km long Northern Peripheral Road (NPR) to connect Dwarka and NH-8, as proposed in the Draft Master Plan 2021 of Gurgaon.
D’Souza’s home could be demolished to make way for this ‘ambitious’ project. Since then, D’Souza hasn’t slept well. And he isn’t alone.
D’Souza is one among thousands of other retired defence and government employees and Kashmiri migrants who bought here plots in the early 90s.
“In July 2006, we got to know of the Haryana Government’s plan to construct the NPR. We staged demonstrations and submitted representations to the CM and Central government ministers. Nothing happened,” said Kiran Kandpal, general secretary New Palam Vihar RWA.
“Finally, the court came to our rescue and issued a stay order against dispossession. But Haryana government officials keep harassing us,” he added.
On January 28, the Punjab & Haryana High Court admitted the writ petition of affected residents. Despite court orders, state government officials began demarcation work and sent earthmovers to start work on the NPR, Kandpal said.
“We staged a six-day sit-in to protest and got the work stopped when the earthmovers turned up all of a sudden. We are being mentally harassed and tortured,” he added.
Residents say those with large tracts of land in the region have been spared and the NPR was being routed through the densely populated New Palam Vihar, because of a politician-builder nexus.
The Haryana government has awarded about 250 licenses to private sector developers all along the NPR.
“The HUDA draft sector plan ignored the reality of the dense residential population and proposed a 150-metre periphery road through New Palam Vihar, despite there being large tracts of vacant land on the southwest. The land is fenced but vacant, and can accommodate the road,” said D’Souza.
“Alternatively, the town planners could have upgraded and widened the three already functional busy major state roads in and around New Palam Vihar. There was no need for a new NPR,” he added.
D’Souza also alleged that the town and country-planning department was trying to safeguard a temple that falls in the NPR’s alignment at the cost of the residents.
“On the pretext of saving the temple, HUDA has aligned the peripheral road along its sides, which, in fact, will shrink and isolate it. This is why homes that have existed for 10-15 years and which fall in the north segment of the planned road will be demolished,” he lamented.
Baba Dharamdas, the temple priest, says the government will not touch the temple, as there are 800-year-old graves of saints here. “There will be a social issue involved if the temple is touched,” he added.
“The Haryana government has agreed to award us a compensation at the rate of Rs 1,200 per sq yard for the plot and Rs 500 per sq yard for the construction,” said Brig (retd.) Ashok Soni (67) who had built a large house on a 1,300 sq yard plot near the temple in 1995 with his life’s savings. “We cannot buy a property in Gurgaon at these rates,” he added.
Principal Secretary (town & country planning) D.S. Dhesi refused to comment on the issue. However, director, town & country planning, T.C. Gupta said his department was confident the court stay would be vacated as the project was of national interest.
District town planner Vijender Singh said, “The Draft Master Plan 2021 of Gurgaon was notified in 2006 and it was made clear at that time only that the NPR would have a certain alignment. Besides, about a hundred house owners, the land of some of the developers and landlords, too, has come in the alignment of the NPR. However, the NPR was planned taking the national interest in consideration and razing about a hundred structures is not a big deal," he added.