In a relief to Patiala Development Authority (PDA) and 2,000 buyers of plots under the Omaxe City project, the Supreme Court has stayed the order of Punjab and Haryana high court to award enhancement of Rs 904 crore to the farmers of Baran village here.
In 2003, the state government had acquired 336 acre for the development of an integrated PDA-Omaxe City Township.
On March 2, 2016, the high court has increased the rate of the land by Rs 1,418 per square yard in compensation to the farmers, thus putting a financial burden of more than Rs 900 crore on the buyers and the executing agency — Patiala Development Authority.
Confirming the development, one of the senior officials of PDA said that in its orders, the Apex Court has asked the authority to deposit an amount of ₹55 crore as enhancement of the land within three months.
“Both the officials and the buyers heaved a sigh of relief as it would have been difficult to settle an enhancement of over Rs 900 crore. The matter was serious as it would have caused a huge financial burden on the buyers of the project. We are yet to get the final copy of the SC orders, following which, decision will be made regarding the payment of Rs 55 crore,” said an official of PDA, on condition of anonymity.
Project came up in 2006
The project came into existence through a joint agreement between private builder Omaxe Private Ltd and the Patiala Development Authority in November 2006.
PDA had bought the land from farmers and had paid them a total of Rs 27 crore. It further sold the land to Omaxe for Rs 109 crore, apart from 15% share on the overall revenue of the project.
The farmers were not satisfied with the paltry compensation paid to them by the government agency. The land owners were agitated over the fact that the company did not fulfil its promise giving them jobs in the IT City that was to be developed under the project.
Long legal battle
The farmers first made an attempt to seek cancellation of the land acquisition by moving high court, but their petition was rejected by the court’s division bench in 2011, after a long legal battle.
Then, in 2012, their petitions for enhancement in compensation in a Patiala lower court brought them relief as the court ordered increase the compensation amount.
Accordingly, the buyers were asked to pay approximately Rs 500 per square yard extra. However, the unhappy over the minor increase, the farmers moved the high court demanding higher compensation.
Meanwhile, Omaxe City Residents’ Welfare Association continued to demand that PDA and Omaxe should pay the enhancement liability, if any, since they were the one who minted the windfall profits out of the project at the cost of farmers and residents; and did not provide the promised facilities.