People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 20

May 15, 2011




UP: Stop the Loot of Land Resources


THE protest by farmers of Bhatta Parsaul village in Greater Noida against unfair land acquisition for the Yamuna Expressway and the clash with the police has once again highlighted the land grab which is going on in Uttar Pradesh under the auspices of the state government.   Four people including two policemen have died in the confrontation.


The Mayawati government had handed over the contract for the 165 kilometer Yamuna Expressway from Greater Noida to Agra to the private company, J P Associates.  2,500 hectares of land have been acquired from the farmers in the districts from Gautam Budh Nagar to Agra for the purpose.  But the acquisition did not end here.  The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority is acquiring thousands of hectares of land in the areas adjoining the expressway and selling them to real estate companies at prices 10 to 20 times given to the farmers.  The builders and real estate companies in turn are selling the same plots of land at 50 to 100 times the price originally given to the farmers.  In December 2010, the government issued a notification bringing 1187 villages covering six districts along the expressway under the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority; the stated aim being to build urban centres and industrial areas. 


An illustration of these works can be seen from what happened to the land acquired for the highway from Noida to Greater Noida.  The farmers were paid Rs 50 to 300 per sq metre  when the land was acquired.  Today in the same place near the Yamuna Expressway, the J P  company is setting up a 2,500 acre Sports City. Plots are being sold there at Rs 15,000 per sq metre by the company there.


This is what is angering the farmers.   Throughout the Yamuna Expressway area, there have been protests by farmers whose lands were acquired in the past one year.  In Tappal in Aligarh district, three persons died in police firing during protests in August 2010.  There have been protests by the farmers in Mathura, Agra and Gautam Budh Nagar.


The Uttar Pradesh government has adopted a model of building  expressways by acquiring large tracts of  land and handing them over to favoured companies like the J P not only for building the expressway but for construction of townships and malls.  The Tappal protests were on the issue of land acquired for a township to be constructed by the company.  The other major project is the Ganga Expressway which is from Greater Noida to Ballia in eastern UP covering  a distance  of 1,047 kilometers.  On both sides of this highway are proposed townships and industrial areas for which land would be acquired and handed over to J P and other private companies.   A large area amounting to 70,000 hectares of land of farmers is to be acquired.  Altogether, 1,250 villages would be affected and people in them displaced.  The project has not taken off because of objections filed by Pollution Control Board. 


In both cases, crony capitalism is at work.   The Mayawati government has handed over the contract in both projects to a single company. In the case of the Yamuna Expressway, not only will the company levy a toll for 35 years but it has been given large plots of land for building townships, sports city etc.


This is naked loot of the land resources of the farmers and handing them over to big business and real estate sharks.  It is not enough for the farmers to get fair compensation but also rehabilitation, resettlement as well as a share in the profits in the event of change in land use. 


The UPA II government has so far failed to bring the Land Acquisition Act Amendment Bill and Rehabilitation and Resettlement Bill before the parliament.  This has to be done immediately.  But that alone will not solve the problem of corporate land grab.  The policy adopted by the Mayawati government is being undertaken in different degrees by other non Left state governments too.  The practice of handing over land cheaply to real estate companies and corporates through State intervention should be put an end to forthwith. 


(May 12, 2011)