Allahabad: In yet another setback to Mayawati government, the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday quashed acquisition of nearly 600 hectares of land in two villages in Greater Noida.

Acting on a batch of petitions by farmers, a division bench comprising Justice Sunil Ambawani and Justice S S Tiwari set aside the acquisition of 589.13 hectares of land in Patwari and Dewla villages, falling under Dadri tehsil of Gautambuddh Nagar district.

The land was acquired by the state government through notifications in March 2008 and May 2008 for building residential complexes in Greater Noida area neighbouring Delhi.

The order came barely a fortnight after the Supreme Court had struck down acquisition of 156 hectares of land by the state government in village Shahberi in the area, saying the authorities were "subserving" private builders in the name of public interest.

The Apex Court had on July 6 upheld the Allahabad High Court order which had quashed the land acquisition by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority under the urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act and directed that
the property be returned to the farmers.

The Authority and builders had moved the apex court challenging the High Court decision.

Today's order was passed on petitions filed by more than 100 residents of the two villages who had moved the court challenging acquisition of their land by the state government
without being given an opportunity to raise their objections. They had alleged that they were not offered adequate compensation.

The court was of the view that since the land was acquired for residential purposes, there was "no urgency involved" and hence "acquisition should not have taken place without giving the affected parties an opportunity for hearing, which would have facilitated payment of adequate compensation".

The High Court had set aside the acquisition of land in Sahberi village in Greater Noida area on May 12 this year and that of another 73 acres in Surajpur Pargana village on May 13.

Opposition welcomes HC quashing

Opposition parties on Tuesday welcomed the Allahabad High Court's decision to quash acquisition of nearly 600 hectares of land in two villages in Greater Noida for residential purposes.

"Farmers and people have breath a sigh of relief after the HC order quashing land acquisition in Greater Noida," UPPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi said in a statement issued here.

She alleged that the state government fraudulently acquired the land from the farmers and sold it to builders.

"The HC order has proved that land was acquired forcibly by the government against the wishes of the farmers," BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said.

He said that the court has given relief to the farmers, who had been protesting against forced land acquisition for a long time now.

"Agricultural land was acquired at throw away prices and sold to the builders for hefty sum which amounts to cheating with the farmers," he said.

Pathak said that a high-level delegation of the party recently met the President and apprised her of the situation in UP.

SP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said the SC and HC orders have exposed the loot of farmers' land in UP.

"After this the government has no right to continue in power," he alleged.

Over 20K customers affected: CREDAI

Apex body of real estate players CREDAI said it will challenge the Allahabad High Court
order to quash acquisition of nearly 600 hectares of land in Greater Noida, a step that will affect over 20,000 buyers.

The Allahabad High Court order has impacted 11 projects in Greater Noida, CREDAI said.

"Along with buyers, we will go to the court against this order," Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (CREDAI) Vice-President Geetambar Anand told reporters

The realtors' body said developers have become "victims" following quashing of land acquisitions by courts, asking government to buy land from farmers in a transparent manner.

"Over 20,000 buyers have been affected as per our initial estimation. From the developers' side, 11 projects have been affected by the court's order," CREDAI Vice-President, NCR,
Anil Sharma told reporters here.

Most of the projects have been partially affected and developers include Amrapali, Supertech, Panchsheel, Arihant and Nirala, Sharma, who is also the Chairman of the Amrapali Developers, said.

"It is a huge area. Apart from houses, there are many schools, colleges, medical facilities and roads that have all been affected," he added.

CREDAI members met Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) officials today to sort out the issue and discussed ways to protect interests of both buyers and developers, Sharma said.

"Along with builders, it's also the responsibility of the authority and the government to protect the interests of home buyers," he added.