Nandgram residents protest razing houses for government instituteUpdated: Sep 23, 2020, 00:06 IST
Residents from Nandgram, where the Ghaziabad municipal corporation had launched a demolition drive last week, staged a protest outside the corporation’s headquarters on Tuesday.
The corporation officials said that the land from where the encroachments were removed last week was government land and was earmarked for Uttar Pradesh ’s first political training institute. They added that they will continue with demolition drives which will start from next week.
The protesters on Tuesday first staged a sit-in outside the corporation headquarters at Navyug Market and later tried to enter the premises, but were prevented from doing so. In the evening, municipal commissioner MS Tanwarmet met a delegation of 15 protestors and asked them to vacate the land.
“The land belongs to the government and it has to be freed up from encroachment for developing the project. So, we will resume the drive again within a week. The occupants were duped by middlemen who sold them the land. In the next phase, we will crackdown on such persons and also issue recovery certificates and seize their properties,” he said. “In the meantime, we have offered help to the occupants. We have told them that we can offer them temporary accommodation at our facilities, and they also have an option to apply for government schemes to get houses. We have also offered them help with transportation, in case, they wish to relocate elsewhere. However, due to large-scale encroachment, the cost of the project has increased by about Rs 17 crore. So, we need to start construction and encroachments will be removed,” he added.
Officials said they had been able to remove 20 out of 100 “illegally” built structures.
The proposed institute is meant to train politicians and activists in public policy and other advanced political subjects, and is planned to come up on land owned by the Ghaziabad municipal corporation. Located near the Hindon Elevated Road, it measures a little over 3 hectares, but about 1.37 hectares was encroached with people constructing houses and boundary walls. The Uttar Pradesh Cabinet had cleared the proposal in 2018 and the project is estimated to cost about ₹168 crore.
“We are trying to get the corporation to not proceed with further demolition, but the officials are not ready to listen. Many people purchased land and also got it registered. But the corporation officials said that we got duped by middlemen. It is only poor people like us who are at the losing end. The officials must nab people who sold the land to the occupants and make alternate arrangements for us,” said Somvir Singh, one of the protesters, said.
Maya Devi, local councilor from ward number six also objected to Saturday’s demolition drive and said that action must be taken up against the people who sold the land to poor people. “ Poor people have been duped as they invested hard-earned money to buy land. The middlemen who sold them government land have run away. So, there has to be action against them,” she added. “Occupants should have been given time for making alternate arrangements before the demolition,” she added.
Corporation officials maintained that before starting the demolition drive they had been pursuing occupants for past one-and-a-half years to vacate the land, but they were not ready to do so.