Allahabad: In a jolt to thousands of flat buyers, the Allahabad High Court on Friday ordered the Mayawati government to return to farmers land acquired in three villages of Gautam Buddh Nagar district and pay higher compensation to similarly affected farmers of other villages.

This means that apartments that were being pre-sold in the villages of Asdullapur, Yusufpur Chak Shaberi and Devla by commercial developers may not be built. In exchange, the farmers have been asked to return money given to them earlier as compensation.

However, farmers in about 60 other villages in the Noida and Greater Noida area, where many of the residential complexes are coming up, will not be entitled to reclaim their land and instead will receive more money from the government.

A three-judge bench of the high Court comprising justices Ashok Bhushan, S U Khan and V K Shukla quashed the UP government's notification of land acquisition in the three villages on a bunch of 491 petitions by farmers challenging the land acquisition.

In its 400-page-long order, the court said "the petitioners shall be entitled to restoration of their land subject to deposit of compensation which they had received".

Raising questions over UP government's land acquisition policy for development of Greater Noida and Noida extension areas, the court directed the Chief Secretary of the state to conduct an inquiry into the "change of land use".

It also restrained authorities from undertaking any further construction without getting due approval from the National Capital Region Planning Board.

The court also granted relief to farmers of other villages, observing that "they shall be entitled to payment of additional compensation" which could be up to "64.70 per cent of the compensation paid earlier" and that payment of the same shall be "ensured by the Authority (Noida/Greater Noida) at an early date.

"It may be open for the Authority to take a decision as to what proportion of additional compensation be asked to be paid by allottees", the court said with regard to the land that had been acquired in the name of "planned industrial development" but was later sold to private builders for the construction of residential complexes.

Farmers hail high court judgment

Many Greater Noida farmers on Friday welcomed the Allahabad High Court ruling that cancelled land acquisition in three villages and hiked compensation in 61 villages by 64 percent.

“The high court has delivered justice to innocent farmers. The farmers were fighting for their rights for 15 years. But the Greater Noida authority ignored their grievances and connived with builders,” farmer leader Satya Pal Chaudhary said.

He said the farmers were deprived of their property rights. “The Greater Noida authority acquired farmers' land forcibly by waiving off their right to object by imposing Section 17 of the land acquisition act, normally used in emergency.”  

Farmer leader Ranvir Nagar said there were petitions from 491 villages. “Relief has been awarded to the farmers of three villages but the remaining villages will have to get justice,” he said.

“Patwari villagers have been deprived of justice. The calculation of increased compensation, at 64 percent, comes to Rs 550 per sq m to which the farmers had objected. Hence some farmers will have to go to Supreme Court for relief.”

Jogender Awana, another farmer leader, said it was a landmark judgment and a victory for innocent farmers whose livelihoods were snatched by government agencies in Noida and Greater Noida.

Commenting on the judgment, farmer leader Dushyant Nagar said truth had prevailed and added that the state had snatched farmers land by hatching a conspiracy with builders.

Greater Noida chairman Balwinder Kumar said he would accept the judgment but it would not adversely affect developmental activities.
“The developmental activities in only one or two villages would be adversely affected,” he said.

No impact to current buyers: CREDAI

Hailing the Allahabad High Court's judgement on Greater Noida land acquisition, builders
On Friday said existing flat buyers will be immune to higher compensations to farmers although rates for future projects could rise by up to 15 per cent.

The developers also claimed there would be no impact of court's judgement to quash land acquisition of three villages -- Asdullapur, Yusufpur Chak Shaberi and Devla -- on builders as well as flat buyers as no projects were launched in these locations yet.

"The High Court's decision is balanced, acceptable and in the interest of all stakeholders -- be it farmers, developers or flat buyers," Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Association of India (CREDAI) NCR Vice-President Anil Sharma told reporters here.

Asked about impact on buyers due to higher compensation by court, CREDAI NCR President Pankaj Bajaj said: "Existing buyers would be kept immune from cost escalation. But, there will be some price rise for future projects on account of rise in costs of land and construction materials".

The delay of about three months in construction works due to the ongoing legal hurdles will also leave an impact on the pricing of the future projects.

Sharma said the prices for future projects could rise by 10-15 per cent. He said the higher compensation ordered by the court would be borne by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA).

It will be unfair if the extra compensation to farmers is passed on to builders, he added.

On the court's order to quash land acquisition of three villages, Sharma said: "There were no projects and no development in these three villages. So, no one will be affected because of the order."

He said apart from Shahberi village at Noida Extension (part of Greater Noida), where the Supreme Court in July had upheld the Allahabad High Court's judgement to quash the acquisition, the construction in projects being developed in other villages will soon commence.

In Noida Extension, Sharma said about 2.5 lakh homes are being developed, out of which 15,000 buyers of seven housing projects belonged to Shahberi village.

Earlier in May, the Allahabad High Court had set aside notifications issued for acquisition of 156 hectares of land for "planned industrial development" in Greater Noida. Later, the Supreme Court also upheld the verdict.

In another judgement in July, the Allahabad High Court quashed acquisition of nearly 600 hectares of land in Greater Noida, affecting about 20,000 home buyers and 11 projects.

After these judgements, farmers of many villages in the area went to the High Court against land acquisition by the state government.

(Agencies)