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UP: Farmers' Mahapanchayat Demands Better Compensation for Land Acquisition for Airport in Noida

Farmers from six villages where the land is to be acquired for the second phase have refused to hand over their plots until the administration revises its compensation policy.

Lucknow: Thousands of farmers gathered for a Mahapanchayat at Jewar airport site in Noida on Thursday and heard their leader reaffirm that their movement would not end until the Yogi Adityanath-led Uttar Pradesh government accepted all the farmers' demands.

The meeting resounded with calls to obstruct the construction of the Jewar airport if their demands were not met and with slogans demanding four times the existing circle rates as land compensation and other benefits for housing land.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) supporters gathered to welcome farmer leader Rakesh Tikait on Thursday afternoon, who later addressed the farmers' grievances. The farmer leader threatened that if the government did not fulfil these demands, this time they would go to Delhi with their tractors instead turn their direction of tractors towards the state capital Lucknow.

Farmers Demand Better Land Compensation

Farmers' demands of getting enhanced compensation for their land and exemption from the 2014 NGT order banning diesel vehicles, including tractors, older than 10 years in Delhi-NCR are getting louder. This is besides the demand for 24 hours of electricity to the villagers as promised by the government during the first phase of land acquisition.

Residents of six villages --- Karauli Bangar, Dayanatpur, Kureb, Ranhera, Mundhera and Nagla Hukum Singh in Jewar, where land is supposed to be acquired for the second phase of the Noida airport, have refused to handover their plots until the administration revises its compensation policy.

Unlike in the first phase of acquisition, the villagers now demand enhanced compensation, apart from space to continue with their businesses and other rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) benefits.

"We have decided to oppose the administration's acquisition process, and we will not let construction of the airport work until four times the existing circle rates as land compensation and other benefits for housing land are given to us. During stage one, the administration gave us two times the existing circle rate as compensation, but we have problem with the methodology of deciding the land compensation and other rehabilitation benefits by the administration," said KP Singh, a prominent face of the movement who hails from Ranhera village – the largest among the six villages, adding, "Some people have given their consents for acquisition. But they are not residents of the village. They live elsewhere and are only concerned about the compensation money."

Singh, along with other farmers, echoed in a similar voice that they would not give their consent for the acquisition of the land if the administration would not offer them four times the circle rate.

According to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the government offers four times the existing circle rate in rural areas and two times the circle rate in urban areas. These six villages, where the land is to be acquired and where 1,334 hectares of land was already acquired under stage one, were classified as urban areas from rural by the Uttar Pradesh government in 2017.

"We are protesting about why our villages were included in urban areas, which is a rural belt. Why were our villages classified as urban areas from rural areas by the Uttar Pradesh government? It was done to reduce rates for our land and to harass the farmers. In stage one, farmers were cheated, but now we will not let it happen if they will not offer us four times the circle rate," said Surjit, a farmer from Dayanatpur village.

The villagers alleged they were being forced to give up their land. Every farmer's consent is to be recorded, but that is not being done, they alleged.

For the second phase of the airport, 1,185 hectares of private land will have to be acquired. The villagers said they had written to the chief minister and senior officials about their demands.

Among their demands, the villagers have asked for enhanced compensation, not the Rs 2,300/sqm fixed in 2018. They have also insisted that the size of the compensatory land should be equal to the existing one, apart from the cost of the house. In the first phase of the acquisition, the administration had given land that was 50% of the size of the original plots.

The villagers have also emphasised for space to continue their livelihoods.

"During the first phase, the administration had provided Rs 5.5 lakh as settlement allowance, but no space was given to them for running businesses. Due to this, about 5,000 people who gave their land are jobless," said Janardhan Singh.

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