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4-min read

Modi Promises to Make Jewar Airport a Reality in Greater Noida Even as Farmers Continue to File Petitions Against Project

The project is now being heard by the Allahabad High Court where hundreds of Jewar farmers have filed writ petitions against the land acquisition process, claiming unfair compensation and malicious intention on the part of the state government.

Manas Mitul | News18.com@ManasMitul

Updated:March 11, 2019, 7:23 PM IST
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Modi Promises to Make Jewar Airport a Reality in Greater Noida Even as Farmers Continue to File Petitions Against Project
A farmer in Rohi village in Jewar signs a consent form for the land acquisition process for the airport last year. (Credit: News18)

New Delhi: In one of his last public programmes before the Election Commission announced the Lok Sabha election dates and implemented the Model Code of Conduct, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the contentious Jewar international airport will come up in Greater Noida.

Inaugurating the Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Institute of Archaeology in Greater Noida, Modi said “the country’s biggest airport project” would be completed and all formalities and processes for the same were underway.

However, the proposed airport in Jewar tehsil of Gautam Buddh Nagar district has hit several roadblocks since last year when the Uttar Pradesh government started the process of land acquisition in the region.

The project is now being heard by the Allahabad High Court where hundreds of Jewar farmers have filed writ petitions against the land acquisition process, claiming unfair compensation and malicious intention on the part of the state government.

On March 7, the high court heard seven of a total 14 petitions and reserved judgment in eight petitions, while dismissing others as withdrawn, with the liberty to file afresh with better particulars.

In fact, some Jewar farmers travelled to Allahabad even on Monday to file fresh petitions against the airport project.

The farmers were opposing the compensation offered to them for their land and accused the government of cheating them.

The bone of contention was the change in the region’s classification from rural to urban, which has legally halved the farmers’ compensation under the provisions of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

Shiv Kant Mishra, the senior counsel representing Jewar farmers in the high court, said the farmers now do not want an airport in their region.

“The main demand of the petitioning farmers now is that the airport should not be built in Jewar. They were tricked with false assurances of jobs and business opportunities by the government while acquiring land,” Mishra told News18.com.

According to the senior counsel, petitioners have made four major arguments against the proposed airport.

The land acquisition process and the airport project itself breached several regulations and guidelines set by the Land Act, 2013, and the UP Industrial Area Development Act, 1976, Mishra said.

First, Mishra argued, Section 10 of the Land Act has not been complied with. The section, which makes special provision to safeguard food security, says whenever multi-crop irrigated land is acquired, an equivalent area of cultivable wasteland shall be developed for agricultural purposes.

“They have acquired over 1,300 hectares of land in Jewar, but not a single inch of new land has been developed till now,” Mishra said.

The second ground, according to Mishra, is that the Jewar region is an industrial development area. Section 6 of the UP Industrial Development Act, 1976, states that land acquisition must be done by the relevant development authority, which in the case is Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA).

“The notification for land acquisition doesn’t even mention YEIDA. It is being done by the government,” Mishra said.

Thirdly, Mishra said, the authorities had secured consent from 70 per cent of the farmers in the region, but the Act says acquisition can only go ahead if at least 70 per cent of the affected families give their consent to the process.

“Those who are above the age of 18 are considered separate families under the provision of the new Act and they have not been counted.”

On behalf of the petitioners, Mishra also argued that there is no severe need of an airport in Jewar as the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi is just over 80km away with expressway connectivity.

The senior counsel also raised concerns about the environmental impact of a new airport in the region at a time when Delhi-NCR is already struggling with severe pollution.

Petitioners also alleged “malicious intention” on the part of the Uttar Pradesh government for changing the notification of Jewar land from rural to urban and thus, bringing down the compensation amount.

Harcharan Lal Sharma, an advocate and a resident of Banwari Bas village in Jewar, has petitioned on behalf of his brother Lekhpal who is set to lose his land to the proposed airport.

Sharma said the villagers were waiting for a judgment in their favour. “Hundreds of farmers from different villages have petitioned the court. The judgment can come any day now,” he said.

Farmers filed petitions in the high court between February 15-18 with the first hearing being held on February 25 and the final one on March 7.

Farmers from Rohi, a village that would be completely subsumed by the airport if the project were to go ahead, were travelling to Allahabad to file new petitions and the matter is likely to extend further.

Gyanendra Sharma, a resident of Rohi, who is set to lose his one hectare of agricultural land and his house due to the project, said several farmers from his village submitted their petitions on Monday.

Despite the Prime Minister’s fervent claims on Saturday, Gautam Buddh Nagar district magistrate Brijesh Narayan Singh said, “No comments on the Jewar airport right now. I will only speak on the elections.”

Efforts to reach Arun Veer Singh, the chief executive officer of YEIDA, were in vain, but Jewar MLA Thakur Dhirendra Singh, who spearheaded the land acquisition drive in the region, said the Prime Minister had assured him of the fate of the airport.

“I hope the court dismisses the case. Seventy-two per cent people have given their consent. They are free to go to court, but let’s see what the court decides,” he said.

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