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Ground Report | In BJP vs SP in UP, Villagers Believe Jewar International Airport Could be Deciding Factor

Brahmdev Sharma in grey shawl from Sabota in Uttar Pradesh flanked by other villagers. (Photo: Pragya Kaushika/News18)

Brahmdev Sharma in grey shawl from Sabota in Uttar Pradesh flanked by other villagers. (Photo: Pragya Kaushika/News18)

Many believe Jewar International Airport could be the game changer and will provide employment to the future generation while SP, RLD see an opportunity to woo disgruntled villagers.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for Jewar International Airport last year, the BJP is touting the Jewar assembly constituency as its development model on ‘sabka saath, saath vikas’ plank this election.

Though the opposition had tried to stoke a controversy in the past over land acquisition and is planning to revive it this election, the issue seems dead with the locals who have backed the BJP’s development agenda.

With the announcement of the Jewar airport, the value of the land went up in the adjoining villages, which are anticipating employment for their future generation. With proposed metro line to the airport, villagers say they believe that it will bring more investment and development to the area.

Airport Could be the Game Changer

As Brahmdev Sharma, one of the residents of the Sabota village that is near Jewar Airport site, puts it, “Sabse bada mudda Jewar Airport rahega ji chunav mein. Bahut bada farak padega. Airport hi jeet ka adhaar banega. (Jewar Airport will be the main poll plank. It will make a huge difference and will be the key factor in deciding the election result)”.

Sharma is not the only one who believes Jewar Airport can be the game changer in the UP assembly elections. Swaraj Singh Bhati, a resident of Moradgarhi village, too has pinned his hope on the project for a better future of the next generation.

“The rate of the land in the nearby villages has gone up. Why should we not be happy about the project? Three companies have already come to our village. We are happy that there will be employment in the village now. ‘Hamein kaun sa nuksaan ho raha hai, batao? (How are we at loss?),” said Bhati flanked by other villagers on the roadside.

Few others say they believe that with the Jewar airport, other projects such as Film City will start in the region that will help boost the economy and generate employment.

The foundation of the airport was laid by the PM with a vision to decongest regional air traffic and relieve the stress on IGI Airport. The first phase of the project, spread over 5,000 hectares with an investment of Rs 5,730 crore, is likely to be inaugurated in 2024.

SP Eyeing to Woo Angry Villagers

While the BJP’s election narrative pivoted on the Jewar airport and development in the region, the SP-RLD alliance is trying to line up those who are yet to be settled due to legal technicalities.

RLD MLA Avtar Singh Bhadana met the residents of Nangla Ganeshi, Dayanatpur, Rohi, Nangla Sharif Khan, Nangla Chittar, Jhangira Jhopdi villages, whose land was allegedly acquired for the Jewar airport. The residents were shifted in a rented accommodation in nearby villages and were given a plot and compensation under the government’s rehabilitation scheme. These six villages will generate around 10,000 votes.

“The government has given the compensation but not given the full payment. The money due towards children is pending. Bribe was taken, some got less space, some more. We have been asked for money for the electricity connection,” said Saudan Singh of Dayanatpur Khera says, who surrounded by other villagers who had come to oversee the construction of their houses on the plots given.

However, others like Chaudhary Dharmendra Siwach, also a BJP worker, believe that more than 70% of the votes will go to the party as people are “happy” with the project. “There are few whose papers are incomplete and we hope by next month that too shall be resolved,” said Siwach.

In nearby villages, however, “those who have been relocated are in trouble because of their own doings,” said Brahmdev Sharma of Sabota village. “They fudged the age of their minor children and now investigation has been launched in it. Land is to be acquired for the government project.”

RLD’s ‘China’ Claim

RLD’s Bhadana, who is pitted against BJP’s Dhirendra Singh, had alleged that the video of the Jewar airport shown to the country was of a Chinese airport.

“This was claimed by China,” said Bhadana, the BJP turncoat and four times MP. On whether he should be quoting China’s statement at a time when both countries face tumultuous relations, Bhadana says, “The government should know this before showing China’s airport video and passing it off as Jewar’s.”

Dhirendra Singh, however, says he believes the acquisition in Jewar was so smooth that it did not see any protest and farmers gave away their land for development. “Acquiring a land where even a two-inch piece can see bloodshed, we acquired it without any protest. I want to thank the farmers. They did face problems. We identified 611 farmers who had legal problems and we got 400 resolved. Acquisition is a painful process but need to think of development. The area where they are being relocated have a sector like structure, have sewer lines and broad roads. It is a non-issue.”

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