Tuesday, July 19, 2011

HC quashes acquisition of 600 hectares of land in Greater Noida

The Mayawati government received yet another jolt on Tuesday when the Allahabad high court cancelled the acquisition of 589 hectares of land in the Dewala and Patwari villages in Greater Noida falling under Dadri tehsil of Gautambuddh Nagar district.

The acquisition was done through notification using the urgency clause in March 2008 and May 2008 in the name of industrial development but was handed over to builders for building residential complexes.

The order came barely a fortnight after the Supreme Court had struck down acquisition of 156 hectares of land by the state government in village Shahberi in the area, saying the authorities were "subserving" private builders in the name of public interest.

This is the sixth acquisition that was done by the state government which has been quashed by the high court on the petition of farmers since March this year. The verdict on acquisition of land in Roja and Yakubpur villages in Noida is expected on Wednesday. Also, the verdict on land acquisition in around ten other villages is expected next week. In all these cases, the land was acquired by the state government using urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act denying farmers an opportunity to register their protest or negotiate for the deal.

Today, the court quashed the land acquisition order on the petition of over two dozen farmers of the two villages -- Dewala and Patwari. Nearly 1500 farmers were affected by the acquisition.

Meanwhile, the state government has decided to file a special leave petition against the high court order in the Supreme Court. Government officials said that a compensation of over Rs 500 crore has already been paid to the farmers and the majority are not against the acquisition. Cnstruction work on the land has aleady started.

The state government has removed Noida chairman Mohindar Singh and chief executive officer Rama Raman. Principal secretary social, child and women welfare Balwaindar Singh has been made chairman and chief executive officer of Noida, who has the image of an upright officer. While no official reason was cited for the removal of Mohindar Singh, sources said that he had been replaced because of the recent judgements of high court quashing land acquisition in Noida and Greater Noida. Mohindar Singh was chairman of Noida for the last three years and most of the acquisition took placeplace during his tenure. Balwindar has served in Noida as chairman and chief executive officer earlier also.

The state government's move is being seen as a desperate attempt by chief minister Mayawati to stay clear of corruption charges and and pursuing an anti-farmer land acquisition policy.

Significantly, the Mayawati government is not the only one to acquire land under urgency clause. Over 15,000 hectares land had been acquired in Gautambudhnagar by the Greater Noida Authority since 1991. Almost all the acquisitions were done using this clause. These acquisitions were done by successive governments in the state which include that of BJP, SP and BSP.

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