Ghaziabad, Meerut farmers on dharna on Delhi-Meerut eway; stall construction work
Farmers’ indefinite dharna on Delhi-Meerut expressway entered its second day on Saturday. Farmers of 24 villages of Ghaziabad and Meerut have continued to protest over their compensation, forcing the construction company to stop further work.
Land of farmers of 19 villages of Ghaziabad and five villages of Meerut district was acquired for the 4th phase of the expressway between Meerut and Dasna of Ghaziabad. The protesters have been demanding an equal compensation for all the farmers whose land was acquired for the expressway and service roads.
Earlier in the week, agitated farmers had taken out a three-day march from a Meerut-Ghaziabad boarder village which ended at the Ghaziabad district magistrate’s office on Thursday but the talks between officials and farmers eventually failed.
Dr Babli Gurjar, convener of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, said, “We are demanding equal compensation for farmers whose land was acquired for the expressway and service roads. The talks concluded without any outcome and officials demanded 10 days to resolve the issue.”
“ We have given them 10 days but won’t allow them to continue work on the expressway until they come out with a solution,” said Gurjar.
While Ghaziabad farmers have sat on dharna at village Moradabad, another group of Meerut farmers have begun their protest at Achraunda village where construction of a toll plaza on the expressway is proposed.
Families of farmers have also joined them, cooking their meals on the expressway and singing bhajans at the protest site.
“ We had been raising the issue for over a year. We took out marches, met divisional commissioner Anita C Meshram... but received only hollow assurances,” said Gurjar.
Later in the day, sub divisional magistrate, tehseeldar and circle officer of Modinagar (Ghaziabad) held a meeting with protesting farmers at the venue. After assurances from additional district magistrate (land acquisition) on telephone, farmers allowed authorities to restart construction but decided to continue their dharna. They also warned they will stop the work again if their demands were not met in eight days.
At Achraunda in Meerut, farmers have come together under the leadership of Mahmud Ali and SP leader Oawan Gurjar. “ We have divided the protest at two places to mount pressure on officials of Ghaziabad and Meerut,” said Ali, explaining that they are also seeking equal compensation and construction of service roads.
Meanwhile, jawans of Rapid Action Force and police have been deployed and officials have tried to convince the farmers to end their protest.
Mudit Garg, project manager of expressway in Ghaziabad region, refuted the charges of unequal compensation and said, “It was given as per rule.” He alleged that the farmers were mounting pressure now because the construction work was in its last lap and the agitators hoped the authorities would buckle under the pressure and approve additional compensation.
The deadline for the expressway has already been extended many times. As of now, 34% of the 4th phase is yet to be completed by December.