Farmers threaten to stop work on Delhi-Meerut Expressway, demand hiked compensation
Hundreds of farmers from different villages of Ghaziabad and Meerut districts gathered at the Govindpuram Anaj Mandi and demanded increase in compensation for their land and service roads used for the Delhi Meerut Expressway (DME) project. The farmers have threatened to stop work for phase 4 of the DME if their demands are not met within the next 10-12 days.
The DME has four phases, two of which are under construction and two are operational. Phase 2 is under construction over a stretch of 19.2km from UP-Gate to Dasna while phase 4, about 32km, is proposed to connect Dasna to Meerut with the help of a six lane access-controlled expressway.
“Farmers of villages from where land is acquired for DME walked from Meerut and Ghaziabad and gathered at Govindpuram. We intended to stage a protest outside the district collectorate but administrative officials sent a delegation to hold discussions. We have given them 10-12 days to decide our demand, else there will be a complete stoppage of work,” said Babli Kasana, president of Kisan Ekta Sangh, a farmers’ association.
He said the association has demanded that famers who have received less than Rs 8,500 per square metre for compensation should be given this amount for their land. He said land for the DME was acquired from 19 villages in Ghaziabad and five in Meerut district.
“The rate of Rs 8,500 is the highest given to farmers from Dasna. Further, we have demanded 14km of service road between Pilkhuwa to Kharkhauda and Mohiuddinpur to Kharkhauda alongside the DME alignment. This will help farmers get a better connectivity to their fields through the underpasses constructed for DME,” he added.
Phase 4, like phase 2, is also in an advanced stage of construction and is likely to be completed by the 0end of December.
Officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), meanwhile, said they have already given a heavy compensation to farmers as per norms and the average rate is about Rs 6,000 to Rs 6,500 per square metre (sqm).
“If we compare, we have given about Rs 60 crore per kilometre under the DME project while Rs 40 crore per kilometre was given for the Eastern Peripheral Expressway. The rates are very high when we compare it to the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway project, which were about Rs 6 crore per kilometre. If service roads are given, there will be no use for the expressway and commuters will start using these roads in order to avoid toll,” said an officer from the authority, requesting anonymity.
The farmers, on the other hand, said NHAI is providing about 8.5km of service road which is not a single connecting road. The NHAI said that they have proposed about 45 underpasses under phase 4 and will help farmers with internal connectivity.
“We have complied with norms while providing compensation. Now, it is up to the Ghaziabad district administration to decide upon issues raised by farmers. At our sites, we need adequate police protection as the work is going on at a fast pace and we cannot afford any hindrances,” said Mudit Garg, project director of NHAI.
The district administration said it held meetings with farmers when they came to Ghaziabad on Tuesday night and also during their stay on Wednesday.
“The administration is reviewing the progress of different cases (related to land compensation) which are in arbitration and also those which have been referred to the state administration. A regular progress review is taken up on a daily basis. We held discussions with farmers and have also urged them not to stop work as it is a public utility project. The committee of farmers has given us 10-12 days to look into their demands,” said Shailendra Kumar Singh, additional district magistrate (city).