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What went wrong?

The Noida authority has promised that developed land plots would be allotted, as part of rehabilitation benefits, to farmers — agitating and threatening to stall real estate projects in the city — in a fortnight. But authority is not in possession of the required land. Top officials are struggling to know how to meet this long-pending demand and pacify farmers.

india Updated: Jul 25, 2011 23:53 IST
Darpan Singh

The Noida authority has promised that developed land plots would be allotted, as part of rehabilitation benefits, to farmers — agitating and threatening to stall real estate projects in the city — in a fortnight. But authority is not in possession of the required land. Top officials are struggling to know how to meet this long-pending demand and pacify farmers.

“We roughly need 250-300 hectares of land to distribute plots among the agitating farmers in Noida. At this stage, we only have 40-50 hectares of land, which can be used for the purpose. No fresh acquisition is likely anytime soon,” admitted an official.

Actually, the development model, termed faulty by many, of the authority has left farmers fuming. In response to complaints that land was being acquired at cheap rates, the authority decided in 1997 that farmers would also be allotted developed plots (5% of the total land acquired), in addition to cash compensation.

But only those farmers were eligible for these plots, who had not indulged in post-acquisition encroachment in the name of abadi areas (where farmers lived). The authority has “found” hundreds of such cases over the years. This — abadi land disputes — has made these plots elusive, causing resentment among farmers. Of the roughly 6,000 farmers who have been demanding plots, half of them are locked in abadi disputes with the authority.

Farmers whose land was acquired after 1997 were to be given these plots, because prior to that period satellite images were not available to establish how much abadi land existed before acquisition. But from 1997 to 2008, the Noida authority allotted 5% plots only to 10-12 farmers. After 2008, the pace of allotment has picked up some pace — nearly 2,500 plots have been allotted after that.

“Actually, officials of successive governments acquired land from farmers in chunks, which included abadi land. The authority said it would settle abadi land disputes later and allot developed land plots to farmers as rehabilitation benefits,” said a source.

Where it Began
Officials termed abadi areas encroachment (because they had been acquired and taken possession of by the authority).

“Officials of land records and revenue never did village surveys and drew acquisition plans in office,” admitted an official source.

In some cases, farmers did encroach land and added it to the abadi areas kept out, if at all, of the acquisition process.

The authority said it could not allot developed land plots to farmers till abadi disputes were solved. “This delayed allotments, which would have been a major relief,” said farmer leader Roopesh Verma.

Why UP in arms now?
“Farmers saw the authority was aggressively selling land and there was hardly anything left for allotment to farmers,” said an official.

And the government has realised its folly. “We’re making a major change to our land acquisition policy. So far, we acquired land first and later settled abadi disputes. This delayed allotment of developed land plots to farmers. A letter has been dispatched to the state government for approval of the change proposal,” a senior official said.

“Farmers will be allowed to retain abadi land verified by satellite images or decided through talks and negotiations and given 5% of their fields, acquired years ago, in developed sectors,” said a senior official.

“Even in cases where satellite images are not available, we are going ahead with settlement,” he added. These encroached pockets have been a perennial source of waterlogging, crime and power theft. Regularisation will pave way for development.