New Delhi: Two days after the Uttar Pradesh government issued a notification of land acquisition for the Jewar International Greenfield Airport, matters again got complicated on Friday as several farmers rescinded the consent they had initially given for the project.
The government notification had mentioned that a little over 1,239 hectares of land in the area will be acquired, but several farmers filed affidavits at the district magistrate’s office, stating they had only agreed to give up their land, not to the compensation amount.
“My brothers and I had given consent to acquire our 45 to 50 bighas (3.5 to 4 hectares approximately) of land. At that time, the authorities had said that the consent was for the airport project to stay in the region, not the compensation to be offered for our land,” said Daanvir Kashyap, a farmer in Rohi village who filed an affidavit revoking his consent.
The land acquisition notification was issued after a long delay, with the government holding numerous rounds of discussions to convince 70 per cent of the land owners, the minimum number required for the project to move forward.
The bone of contention, however, was the change of the region’s classification from rural to urban, which has legally halved the farmers’ compensation.
According to the notification, the government is offering Rs 2,300 per square metre, an amount which is at least 33 per cent less than what the farmers have been demanding.
They have threatened to take legal recourse, which could again stall the process.
District Magistrate BN Singh contradicted the aggrieved farmers’ claim and said, “Obviously, the consent was for the (land) rate too. If it was just for the airport, they would have agreed earlier also.”
Another Rohi farmer Tejpal Singh, who had initially consented for his 250 to 300 bighas (20-25 hectares approximately) of land to be acquired for the airport project, has along with other protesting farmers filed an affidavit revoking his consent.
“We were told by the Tehsildar while signing the consent forms that we can revoke it at a later date. Section 11 notification has been issued, but we still don’t have any compensation or rehabilitation details on paper. We were misled when they needed our consent,” he said.
Ved Prakash and Gyanendra Sharma, both of whom did not give consent for their land, said farmers have banded together and will go to Allahabad High Court if their demands are not met. Under provisions of the Land Act, farmers now have two months to file their objections to the authorities.
Harcharan Sharma, an advocate in Jewar civil court and a resident of Banwaribas, one of the six villages in line to be subsumed by the airport project, is representing farmers’ legal interests. He maintains that the authorities did not adhere to proper procedure while seeking consent from farmers.
“The notification has been issued, but details of compensation and rehabilitation remain up in the air. The rates that were initially offered by authorities were also inconsistent from village to village. That is why farmers are now taking their consent back,” he said.
According to Sharma, in the past two weeks, nearly 300 farmers have filed affidavits to the District Magistrate, rescinding their consent for acquisition of about 200 hectares of land in Jewar.
“We have time till December 31 to file our objections. If they don’t act on our objections, we will move the Allahabad High Court,” he said.
Sharma’s own one hectare land in Kishorepur village will be acquired by the authorities when the process moves forward. He did not give his consent, but was forced to comply after authorities hit the target of minimum requisite consent in the region.
The district magistrate said the affidavits filed by farmers to rescind their consent were not legally binding. “They have already given their consent for acquisition. It cannot be taken back. It is not a legal process,” he said.
Sharma said the authorities will invite objections for a two-month period and hold hearings on the same.
“Every objection will be examined and disposed as per the law, following which we will make the award and issue the final notification,” the magistrate said, adding, “On the contrary, this was the most transparent acquisition process. I had personally visited these areas. Farmers gave consent voluntarily and in writing.”