Monday, September 03, 2018

Turbulence: Jewar Airport Project

“Tell me, does this look like an urban area to you?” asked Bhagwan Singh, pointing to the pastoral landscape he calls home. The air steeped with the earthy smell of cow dung, Singh’s house is a five-minute walk from vast fields of wheat, paddy, pulses and maize. On the face of it, there’s no arguing with him. But his village, Rohi, is among six villages at the centre of a tussle between farmers and state authorities over whether they should be classified as ‘rural’ or ‘urban’.
The six villages — Rohi, Dayanatpur, Kishorpur, Parohi, Ranhera and Banwari Bas — in Gautam Budh Nagar’s Jewar tehsil have been earmarked for the first phase of the Uttar Pradesh government’s prized project, a greenfield international airport, which received the go-ahead from the Civil Aviation Ministry last year after being a talking point for nearly 17 years.
But the process of acquiring land from villagers, which began in May this year, has been fraught with difficulties — to the extent that officials from the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), the nodal agency for the project, last month, suggested the possibility of the project not taking place in the area. Under the 2013 Land Acquisition Act, the state is mandated to obtain the consent of 70% of the 2,200 families that have to give up their land. “The Chief Minister is very clear that this project will only take place with farmers by our side. If consent doesn’t come our way, it will not take place here,” said YEIDA CEO Arun Vir Singh.
The primary bone of contention is recognition of this land as ‘urban’ which, farmers claim, entitles them to a compensation that is roughly half of what they would get if the land was classified as ‘rural’.
03/09/18 Sukrita Baruah/Indian Express

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