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Scarce land may spoil HC verdict euphoria

india Updated: Oct 23, 2011 01:52 IST
Darpan Singh

Thousands of homebuyers in Noida and Greater Noida may be breathing easy after the Allahabad high court's Friday order, but solving the realty crisis in the twin cities will not be easy.

Even as builders, now hopeful of uninterrupted execution of projects, are praying that farmers don't move the Supreme Court to challenge the verdict, the industrial development authorities in Noida and Greater Noida will find it difficult to please farmers because of scarce land in developed areas.

The court had asked the authorities to pay hiked compensation and 10% (instead of the current 5-6%) of the developed land to farmers. This means an additional burden of Rs 10,000 crore. The authorities say they will pay cash, but allotting bigger plots of developed land to farmers will be an issue. Farmers were already entitled to plots measuring 5-6% of the total land acquired, apart from cash compensation.

The Noida Authority has hardly any land left for such allotments. "We are mulling to move the Supreme Court to challenge the land allotment part of the order. Land is extremely scarce and costly in Noida. Because of poor planning in the past, we are still struggling to allot, despite sustained agitations by farmers, 5% plots to those whose land was acquired years ago," said a senior official.

The increased cash payment will mean more than Rs 1,000 crore burden on the authority. The required land for farmers, not visible though, will cost more than Rs 2,000 crore.

"After much struggle, we have managed to squeeze out 5% plots to 5,000-odd farmers in Noida. There is no land left now," said Noida authority CEO Balvinder Kumar.

Unlike the Greater Noida authority, the Noida authority had neither hiked cash compensation, nor increased the area of plots given as part of rehabilitation benefits despite a sustained agitation by farmers as part of out-of-court deal.

The Greater Noida authority will not challenge the HC order, but try to find a 'middle path'.

"We are exploring the option of paying cash in lieu of land," said an official of the GNIDA. But there is a catch. The authority has already taken loans worth more than Rs 3,000 crore to acquire and develop land in Noida Extension. The increased cash compensation ordered by the court alone will mean the authority has to pay Rs 4,000 crore.

"First, we will take loans from financial institutions and the Noida Authority will arrange for funds to be incurred on increased compensation and bigger developed plots to farmers. Later, we will recover the amount from those whom we have allotted land, including builders, individual allottees and institutions. The court has empowered us to do so," Greater Noida chief executive officer Rama Raman said.