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High Court strikes down more land acquisition deals by the Noida administration




For many years now, the areas of Noida, Greater Noida, and Noida Extension near the capital city have been the center of a building boom. The many Governments of Uttar Pradesh in the past (run by different political parties such as the BJP, SP, BSP) have all played a part in this building boom, leveraging their closeness to Delhi and meeting the needs of a huge number of people who were bound for the national capital but could not afford to buy homes in Delhi. So, the Government would acquire land and give this to society and builders, who in turn would build a variety of residential units and sell these to an eager crowd of buyers.
Now, one would argue that this is part of development. After all, agriculture is seen as the starting point of economic activity, and in order to progress further, you need to build industry and residential units, and those need land. So, acquiring land for this purpose is necessary, and it would seem that the Government would be in the best position to get into the role of acquiring land and then handing this over to the people doing the building.
However, the recent past in India has been hit by a number of issues related to this very purpose, with land acquisition coming under dispute in a number of states, and the situation seems to scream out for a land acquisition act that promised to be equitable to all. The Congress has not been able to come up with such an Act because of its political issues with its allies, most notably Mamta Banerjee; and it would also seem that the Congress may be delaying such an Act so that it can apply political pressure in the prime state of Uttar Pradesh.

When a land needs to be acquired, there are multiple parties involved. There is the farmer who is giving his land away and desires a just compensation, not an amount which would seem that he was cheated. When you see farmers being forced to sell their land at Rs. 800, and the same amount of land being auctioned off to developers at rates in the thousands, the farmer would be justified in asking for some of that amount; after all, the state should not be in the business of making huge sums of money by being the middleman between the farmers and the builders. Then there is the landless labour who works with the farmer and who becomes jobless and without compensation when the land is taken away (and not many bother thinking about him). And then there is the end user of the land, who is paying the required amount of money to the Government authority and deserves a clean legal stake to the land.
In the case of UP, the recent court orders in Noida Extension have focused on the fact that the land was taken away by the authority under the clause of an emergency rather than by giving the farmers a chance to challenge the price paid by the authority. Many of the farmers did not accept the compensation money and challenged the decision in court, which finally found its way to the court decision making stage after around 3 years. The court took the stand that the farmers were right in their complaint, since the emergency clause is not meant for such situations, and the farmers should have been allowed to challenge the compensation amount. Further, the land is to be returned to the farmers in a state ready for farming.
This poses a set of problems when the reality is taken into account. Construction has been ongoing in this land, with thousands of people having paid money to buy flats (most of them with bank loans that need to be serviced). There are going to be huge problems in terms of getting compensation money back to these flat owners; the builders have also sunk money into the ongoing construction which is certainly not going to come back. The land is certainly not fit for farming, with concrete having been poured into the land, and if the farmers have to return back the compensation money, a number of them will face problems with the money having already been spent. The most likely conclusion will be that enhanced money will be paid to the farmers and the buildings will be built. Of course, one does not know whether the authority has the money to pay the enhanced amounts, since the builders will shrink at paying any more money for the land.




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