Three summers ago, Yashpal Singh, a small trader of Gunpura village on the southern fringes of the Buddh International circuit, opened an eatery. Yashpal only made some money in the first year, that too before the track was completed.
Then in 2011, there was a buzz around the village. And to meet the deadline, lot of man power was employed. But once the track was completed and the casual workers flocked elsewhere to earn their living, Yashpal’s earnings dwindled. He had to shut down his restaurant early in 2012.
“As there were no customers, we pulled down the shutter,” he told HT. These days he depends on villagers from Gunpura and Atta Gujran to keep him in business.
On Wednesday, two days before the track comes alive, Yashpal was watching the India-Australia ODI match. Children walked in, opened the glass jars, helped themselves to the sweets leaving money on the counter.
TV meant uninterrupted electricity? “See that?” Yashpal pointed to the tower in the field across the narrow road, relaying thick power cables into the F1 facility. “That is exclusively to provide uninterrupted power to the circuit. For us, there is electricity only for six-seven hours.”
The 40-odd families in the village — many sold their land for the track — seemed indifferent to the race this week, though aware that there won’t be one next year. The indifference could be traced in the 20-odd shops with shutters down since they were built. “We were expecting sustained business for most of the year. It never happened!”
The grandstand roof gleamed in the autumn sun at some distance. Two trucks carrying police personnel rolled by, raising dust. “They will be camped here for the race,” locals said. The students at Galgotias University, across the circuit’s main entrance, were concerned about traffic restrictions. Ikram Hasan, a 2ndyear student, said: “Autorickshaws won’t ply, so everyone prefers to stay at home.”
With their farmland gone, the villagers of Dankaur were disappointed no new ventures had come up to provide jobs. Life has changed for some. Land price has shot up. “It’s beyond the reach of ordinary people now,” sub-contractor Rehmat Ali said.
(With inputs from N Ananthanarayanan)