‘90% farmers say they won’t move court’
Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority CEO PC Gupta tells Jeevan Prakash Sharma that the remaining 10% farmers have refused to accept compensation for acquisition
Ever since its inception in 2001, the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) has made efforts to ensure the availability of affordable housing options and investment opportunities along the Yamuna Expressway. This area is today considered the best alternative to Noida Extension and Greater Noida.
There are, however, numerous challenges that the authority faces - timely completion of development schemes being one of them. In an exclusive interview with HT Estates, P C Gupta, CEO, Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority, talks about problems faced, the schemes chalked out for all residential, industrial and institutional schemes and all that is required to make plans work. Excerpts: It will be one year since the Yamuna Expressway was opened to traffic on August 9, 2013. Have the objectives of building the highway been fulfilled? When the Yamuna Expressway was inaugurated last year, except for the initial few days when people were allowed to drive without paying the toll fee, the average daily commuters to Aligarh, Mathura, Agra and several other places in that area were 4000 to 4500. Today, the number has gone up to an average of 8,000 daily. So the data clearly speaks that the expressway has provided residents a fast- moving corridor to minimise travel time to connect the main townships/commercial centres on the eastern side of Yamuna. Today the upcoming huge urban conglomerates in Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad have easy accessibility to Aligarh, Mathura and Agra - which is home to India’s top tourist attraction. We are also working on ensuring the development of the areas adjoining the highway. The Yamuna Expressway corridor is bound to have huge impact on the economic growth not only of Uttar Pradesh but the adjoining states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana in the coming years. The expressway was also built to relieve traffic pressure on National Highway-2 (NH-2) which runs through the heart of cities like Faridabad, Ballabgarh and Palwal. But that does not seem to be happening. Why? I agree that people from major parts of Delhi, such as south and west etc don’t use the Yamuna Expressway for several reasons. With a flyover at Badarpur, a major traffic bottleneck on NH-2 has been cleared to some extent. Also, people from south and west have to travel a long distance to reach Yamuna Expressway while NH2 is closer to them. However, if the Yamuna Expressway hadn’t happened, these 8,000 people would have used NH2 and the traffic situation would have been worse than what it is today.
In fact this six-lane expressway will be expanded to eight lanes once the average number of commuters goes up to 25,000 daily. Can you share all the development schemes that you have launched till now? Initially, the YEIDA had launched a special development zone scheme offering a large chunk of land, of about 1000 hectares, for development of a core activity such as sports, recreational, residential, institutional, industry, service industry and Information technology. As there were not many takers for the scheme only one 1000-hectare plot was allotted (at acquisition cost plus extra development charge) for sports to JP Infratech and it developed the Formula1 track. Another scheme was launched in 2009 when 21,000 residential plots of different sizes in sectors 18 and 20 were launched. As part of another affordable housing scheme for economically-weaker sections, 4425 four-storey flats each measuring 30 sq mt, costing R7.22 lakh each, have been launched for allotment.
About 73 plots have been allotted to Institutions and corporate offices for institutional development. Academic sessions of Galgotia university and Noida international University have started after buildings on their campuses were completed. Many industrial development schemes are on the anvil, the latest one being closed on July 31, 2013, as per which 100 hectares of land has been earmarked for allotment.
We have planned to launch schemes for big industries, warehousing, institutions, recreational green and affordable housing in the near future. Can you give a break-up of the total land acquired and distributed for various development schemes? We have acquired approximately 11,500 hectares of land in six districts of our notified area, of which some 4100 hectares have been allotted to JP Infratech for the development of Yamuna expressway, land for concession, facilities, toll plaza etc. About 270 hectares has been allotted for institutional land use, some 1000 hectares for sports activities, 850 hectares for 21000 residential plots and about 500 hectares for residential use to builders. We have also given 1000 hectares of land on acquisition cost for special development zone (SDZ) with sports as core activity, in which they (JP Infratech) have launched a sports city and developed India’s first Formula 1 track. The authority still has a land bank of about 1000 hectare for industry, institution, recreation and residential land use. Out of the total acquired land, approximately 40% is being used for green areas and transportation and physical infrastructure for better living conditions and improved environment. There have been reports which suggest that many of your schemes and external development such as sector roads etc have been stalled because of stiff opposition from the farmers. Is this true? What are the demands of the farmers and how is the authority going to address them? Look, 90% farmers have given their land under the KARAR agreement where they have given us a written assurance that they will not go to any court to oppose our acquisition process or the rate of compensation. It’s just the 10% who have refused to accept compensation. Now they are demanding increased compensation at the rate of 4.7% and 10% developed land. We are trying to negotiate with them and resolve the issue. Is it true that after the Bhatta-Parsaul violence, the Authority has not been able to acquire any land at all? In such a scenario, how will you execute Master Plan 2021 (Phase II) for which you need to acquire a huge chunk of land for various development purposes? The scenario has changed now. The farmers are ready to give land through negotiations. We have initiated process of consensual purchase of land directly from the farmers. We have successfully purchased some 725 hectares land by way of direct purchase for the development of a 765 KVA substation near Jahagirpur, industrial land in sectors 12B and 12C, institutional land in Sector 15A and land for a 60-metre road
parallel to the expressway. Do areas along the Yamuna Expressway come under the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB)? Is it also true that the NCRPB has objected to land acquisition in this area because of low population density? Yes, the total number of 131 villages in district Gautam Budh Nagar and 40 villages in District Bulandshahr come under the NCRPB. The board has not objected to land acquisition. However, it was suggested that the land being scarce commodity there was a need to go for high density instead of low-density development. On the suggestion of NCRPB, we have revised our draft Master Plan and now the proposed density of the town is 104 PPHA (per person per hectare), comparable to other NCR town. There have been a lot of allegations that developers are selling projects to homebuyers without getting construction plans approved. Can you please provide a complete detail of all the real estate players in the area and how many of them have got their plans approved? It is not in my knowledge. However, construction plans are being approved as per regulations by the Authority for various allottees. Do you think the scrapping of the airport project at Jewar has hampered development activities in the area? Has the government been able to decide on any area for an airport? Right now we are focusing on areas which are proposed to be developed according to the 2021 Master Plan. We are working on developing this area as per the Master Plan. Do you think Yamuna Expressway presents a great investment opportunity in Delhi NCR? How? Yes, Yamuna Expressway area’s location strategically connects it to a number of expressways proposed or under construction in the NCR, such as the Eastern Peripheral Expressway, the Khurja-Palwal Expressway and the Yamuna Expressway. It is also close to Delhi and to the emerging agglomeration of Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway. The area has abandoned water resources to support urbanisation and ample land is available for development. We will make sure we develop this area as an environmentally eco-friendly city with green infrastructure.