Noida/Greater Noida, July 23: It was a day of protests in Noida and Greater Noida Saturday – farmers vowing to oppose new government moves to acquire their lands and even threatening to stop on-going construction, and anxious home-buyers demanding official assurances that their investments are safe and the property prices would not sky-rocket.
Farmers staged a sit-in at Greater Noida’s Shahberi village, where the Supreme Court has restored land to farmers, to protest the Uttar Pradesh government’s move to acquire their lands anew under the revamped land acquisition policy.
In another meeting at Nagli Wajeedpur village in Noida, farmers from several villages threatened to stop all ongoing construction work on and along the Yamuna Expressway if their 21 demands were not met by the Noida authority by July 31.
Scores of harried and worried home-buyers also took out a march through Noida to the Noida authority’s office at Sector-6 where they handed over a memorandum of their demands – mainly that the government give them an assurance that their investments were secure and that the prices of alternate properties offered to them would not skyrocket.
One of the buyers said they had been assured by the builders that everything had been settled.
‘When we visited their (builders’) site office, they showed us all lease agreements with the Greater Noida authority, approved lay-out plans, authority approvals and other documents. They told us that all their properties were bankable,’ said Ritesh Singh, who had brought a property in Panchsheel Greens.
‘Banks, both private and nationalised, financed us on the conviction that the (land) titles were clear. Now, the same banks have refused to give further loans on the grounds that the title is not clear,’ he said.
Another buyer said the banks continue charging interest from at 10.5 percent and above, and 20 percent of their monthly pay goes off to meet the monthly instalments on the loans.
‘We are all salaried middle-class people. We bought property here, as it was the cheapest in the NCR (National Capital Region). The builders also claimed in their ads that their apartments were closer to Metro stations, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad. Thus, we fell in their trap,’ said Sharad Pandey, who had booked a flat in Panchsheel Highness.
While a majority buyers have paid 50 percent of the total property value, at least 10 percent had made a down-payment of the full amount and are at greater risk of losing their entire money.
Builders tried to allay their clients’ fears.
R.K. Arora, managing director of Supertech, said: ‘We will soon send them letters asking them either to transfer to any of our other projects in Noida Extension, relocate to any other place in Noida or get a refund. So far, we have not received a single application for a refund. Still, if anybody wants, we will return their entire money without any deduction.’
Mahagun director Amit Jain said the firm was processing the refunds of buyers who booked in its villas, coming up at Shahberi.
‘All their money will be refunded with interest and without deduction. Our other projects comprising high-rises are situated in other villages and are undisputed. We are still awaiting the copy of apex court order. We are ready to help our customers in all way in future,’ he said.
In Shahberi, irate farmers also decided to file a petition in the Allahabad High Court seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe against the officials responsible for earlier land acquisition.
They termed the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority’s (GNIDA) announcement Saturday on acquiring land in the village afresh under the new policy as a ‘conspiracy hatched by the state under the obligation committed earlier to the builders’.
‘We would file a petition before the Allahabad High Court for CBI investigation in the role of senior Greater Noida officials who had arbitrarily grabbed farmers’ lands and handed over to the private builders,’ said Satya Pal Chaudhary, on whose writ the land acquisition was quashed by the Allahabad High Court.
At Nagli Wajeedpur, the farmers claimed the local authority had been ‘fooling’ them for the last two years, and asked for a written promise from the new CEO, Balvinder Singh, on settling their demands within nine days.
‘We have been struggling to get our 5 percent residential plots in a developed sector despite the fact that we had agreed to several of their offers. But they held back our plots on the ground that we have encroached on their land,’ said Mahesh Awana, spokesman of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, comprising representatives of all local political parties, barring the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party.