‘It’s Greek to us’: Sectors in G Noida to get fresh names

Apr 18, 2022 05:51 AM IST

Narain wanted it to have better infrastructure than Noida, and one of his concerns, as he set about planning the brand new city, was to find a nomenclature for its neighbourhoods that would suit a futuristic city.

More than 30 years ago when Yogendra Narain was given the task to build Greater Noida, he set up his makeshift chamber — a small room with a sofa — in Noida authority’s head office. The year was 1991 and his brief was to plan a modern city with the best amenities for residents and industries.

Greater Noida’s Greek sector names are often a source of humour and confusion for its residents. HT photo
Greater Noida’s Greek sector names are often a source of humour and confusion for its residents. HT photo

Narain wanted it to have better infrastructure than Noida, and one of his concerns, as he set about planning the brand new city, was to find a nomenclature for its neighbourhoods that would suit a futuristic city.

“After much thought, I decided to use the letters of the Greek alphabet for naming the sectors of the city. The idea was to ensure that the names were in sync with the scientific spirit of the city and politicians would find it difficult to change them on a whim,” says Narain, who was the first CEO and chairman of the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA).

He retired as the country’s defence secretary in 2002 and subsequently served as a secretary-general in the Rajya Sabha.

But three decades later, GNIDA plans to do away with the old names of sectors. For the uninitiated, Greater Noida, about 40 kilometres from Connaught Place, was set up in 1991 as an extension of Noida.

The city, administered by GNIDA, has wide tree-lined roads and service lanes and everywhere one sees big signage directing the commuter to its Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Omicron, Mu, Zu, Chai, Fhi, Pai and other sectors.

Last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a naming system for variants of Covid-19 and used letters of the Greek alphabet because it felt the practice of describing variants after the country of their origin was “stigmatising and discriminatory.”

While the Greater Noida authority says that it is trying to streamline the city’s “complex and mismanaged naming system” as many residents, visitors and investors find it hard to pronounce, identify and remember these letters of the Greek alphabet, many residents believe that the proposed change in names has to do with the association of Greek characters with Covid-19 variants.

“What else explains this sudden desire to change the names after over three decades,” said Rakesh Goyal, who lives in Sector Omicron-III. “While these names do remind us of the pandemic, changing them will not erase history,” the software engineer added.

“If the WHO had not skipped the Greek letters Nu or Xi, Omicron would still not have been the name of a coronavirus variant. But it is fine; we do not want our sector to be called anything else,” said Goyal with a hearty laugh.

Sector Omicron-III (there are also Omicron I &II) where Goyal lives, is, like most other sectors in Greater Noida, a leafy place with the silence akin to a secluded European neighbourhood.

It is 5pm and there is not a soul in sight, except for a dog-walker and a few cars entering through its gate that has a signboard featuring the photos and names of office-bearers of the local resident welfare association (RWA).

Ashwani Munjal, another resident, said he loves Omicron- III, for its quietude and greenery, but the name of his neighbourhood indeed makes it harder to forget the pandemic.

“Also, when I travel, a lot of people are baffled to know that I live in a place called Omicron,” said the businessman, who is also the author of ‘Beyond Currencies – World’s Most Incredible Minds’, a book based on his vast collection of banknotes from all over the world featuring scientists.

The coronavirus variant Delta might have originated in India and left a trail of death across the world, but Sunny Bhati, a real estate agent and RWA president of Delta-1 sector, said residents love the name and any attempt to change it will force them to launch an agitation.

“Yes, we often joked that the names of the most devastating coronavirus variant have brought infamy to our sector. But ours is a model sector with many amenities and its name Delta -1 continues to be as dear to us as ever. Any attempt to change it will be met with stiff resistance,” said Bhati. He sits in a big upholstered chair in the RWA office located in an imposing white community centre building.

When we asked Narendra Bhooshan, CEO of the Greater Noida Authority, about people’s opposition to any change in nomenclature, he said, “I really do not understand people’s fixation with these Greek names. All we are trying to do is streamline the city’s mismanaged naming system. There is a multiplicity of names in one sector. So, there are Alpha, 1 and 2. Then the city has two sectors that are named using simple English numerals; then there is a sector called Tau, which was renamed as Swarnagari as locals felt ‘tau’ is used to refer to the elderly people in their village. We are trying to simplify the naming system.”

Bhooshan further said, “A committee is currently studying the multiplicity of names in various sectors and will suggest alternative names and seek people’s suggestions on them. A modern futuristic city cannot have such a confusing naming system.”

When asked whether the upcoming exercise was promoted by the association of Greek letters with coronavirus variants, Bhooshan said, “Not really. The fact is that we have been receiving steady complaints from residents, visitors and investors about these confusing names”.

But most residents say there is no confusion. “Besides, you do not change the names of neighbourhoods after 30 years if the visitors or investors find them confusing,” said Agam Singh, a resident of Delta-II. “ We know the city like the back of our palm,” he added.

Upasna Singh, who runs a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and has been living in Alpha-II since the year 2003, said that changing the names of sectors will only create confusion when none exists. “This move to change the names of Greater Noida sectors is pretty ridiculous and is motivated by politics. It was planned as a modern, progressive city and changing the names of sectors will rob it of its global character,” said the former history lecturer.

Prof Vivek Kumar, who teaches sociology at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), said that over the years, people come to identify with the names of their cities and localities.

“Besides, I think people in Greater Noida associate the current names with modernity, exclusivity and egalitarianism. If the alternatives to Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta are sector 1,2,3,4… this sense of exclusivity is lost, ” he added.

Narain, who talks of Greater Noida with great passion, says he could not agree more. “I don’t think these names should be changed; they give the city its unique identity. If they must be changed, the alternative has to be better, equally unique,” he said.


    Manoj Sharma is Metro Features Editor at Hindustan Times. He likes to pursue stories that otherwise fall through the cracks.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
My Offers
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, March 27, 2023
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Register Free and get Exciting Deals