From Tehelka - India's Independent Weekly News Magazine

Tiller, Traitor, Developer, Sly

The farmers are outraged. The government is flummoxed. Private developers have grabbed 2,000 acres in Haryana’s Sonepat using forged papers and thumb prints.
G Vishnu uncovers the scam

Farmers allege that 2,000 acres, today worth over Rs 2.5 cr per acre, was ‘bought’ for Rs 20 lakh per acre

SHEILA DEVI, 54, of Nangal Kalan village in Haryana’s Sonepat district cannot comprehend how Taneja Developers and Infrastructure Ltd (TDI) procured her two-acre plot in 2004, ‘signed’ with thumb impressions of her husband Narender Singh, who died in 2002 and his brother Bhupender, who went missing the next year.

The documents are obviously forged. But how did a farmers’ family get cheated in Haryana, where the land acquisition policy formed in 1975 is reputed to be one of the most farmer-friendly pieces of legislation? Its prime claim to fame is that in case of urban development, the private developer has to enter into a ‘collaboration agreement’ with the landowner. The collaboration is meant to ensure that the landowner has some stake — which brings in regular income — in the development project being constructed on his/her land. In these cases, the landowner will always be the rightful owner, even as the ‘coloniser’ earns profits for his investment in the land.

However, farmers in Rai block of Sonepat allege that documents such as power-of-attorney, licence applications, collaboration agreements and land transfers were made in their names through forged signatures and fake thumb impressions. The landowners allege that more than 2,000 acres of prime agricultural land, which is worth more than Rs 2.5 crore per acre today, was bought by deceitful means at an average of Rs 20 lakh per acre.

In Nangal Kalan, villagers allege that almost all GPA and licence forms were obtained by fraudulent means. The GPA deed has been drawn up in several names from towns as far as Tarn Taran (Punjab) and Baghpat (Uttar Pradesh), the villagers say.

When confronted with these irregularities, Gupta shrugs them off as “general observations”. The Haryana DTCP goes on to say that the villagers are welcome to take legal recourse if they indeed feel they are victims of injustice. Satbir Singh of Nangal Kalan scoffs at Gupta’s comments. “Ten of us have already gone to court. All of Nangal Kalan will go to court. We will see how these people get away,” he says.

TDI, with DN Taneja as chairman, has the biggest land bank in Sonepat — more than 1,500 acres, which is half of its holdings all over north India. The biggest catch for the group has been Nangal Kalan, where it is building TDI Tuscan City.

Just an hour’s drive from Delhi, Nangal Kalan is a 1,450-acre village in Kundli. It is the biggest village in Rai block and is inhabited by Jats, Rajputs, Dalits and Muslims. In the Haryana Master Plan prepared in the mid-1980s, Nangal Kalan as well as neighbouring villages such as Rasoi and Aterna were earmarked for developing tech parks, industrial zones and residential colonies. Hence landowners have refrained from utilising the land for any purpose other than agriculture.

However, in 2004, Haryana Urban Development Authority issued notice of land acquisition to the farmers of Nangal Kalan. Curiously, even though the notice under Section 9 (final stage of acquisition) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, was issued in the names of more than 1,500 landowning households, it was withdrawn immediately. Most of the farmers never actually received the notice but news about it spread quickly.

Just an hour’s drive from Delhi, Nangal Kalan is a 1,450-acre village in Kundli. It is the biggest village in Rai block and is inhabited by Jats, Rajputs, Dalits and Muslims. In the Haryana Master Plan prepared in the mid-1980s, Nangal Kalan as well as neighbouring villages such as Rasoi and Aterna were earmarked for developing tech parks, industrial zones and residential colonies. Hence landowners have refrained from utilising the land for any purpose other than agriculture.

However, in 2004, Haryana Urban Development Authority issued notice of land acquisition to the farmers of Nangal Kalan. Curiously, even though the notice under Section 9 (final stage of acquisition) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, was issued in the names of more than 1,500 landowning households, it was withdrawn immediately. Most of the farmers never actually received the notice but news about it spread quickly.

“The whisper was that the government offer was too low,” says Ranbir Jung of Nangal Kalan. “An atmosphere of fear was created. Then suddenly, brokers representing developers came calling. Strangely, they were offering much higher prices.”

The brokers convinced several landlords that the offer — TDI, Ansal API and Omaxe being the biggest players — was thrice the government compensation.

In Nangal Kalan, TDI struck a deal with some farmers to submit their land for collaborative projects. Land registry was done with an air of urgency. Almost 80 percent of the village is unlettered in English and semi-literate in Hindi. The farmers allege that fake thumb impressions were produced on crucial documents like the collaboration agreement, skewed towards builders’ interests.

Since 2008, a group of farmers led by the former sarpanch of Nangal Kalan, 50-year-old Satbir Singh, has fought a silent battle with the weapons of Right to Information Act, 2005, as well as handsome bribes. This group has accessed thousands of pages of documents that they claim substantiate the allegations they level about the sheer scale of “a scam run by private players and facilitated by the government”.

In 2008, Satbir Singh found that his three-acre plot was to be turned into a mall built by TDI. To his dismay, TDI had all the documents in place — complete with thumb impressions of himself and his brother. Satbir claims that he never gives his thumb print on any document without legal consultation.

ACCORDING TO the development Master Plan meant for Sonepat (a copy of which is available with TEHELKA), TDI ought to have finished all projects by 2008-09, which included the mall on Satbir Singh’s land. After violent confrontation with company representatives in the nearby police station, the developer has kept a distance from Satbir Singh.

As opposed to the common frame of a poor, innocent farmer, Satbir is wily and aspires to be a builder. He can deliver monologues on justice with alacrity. In the supreme confidence of getting a better deal from TDI, he’s spent lakhs of rupees to get documents for every villager in Nangal.

Today, two of the main entrances to Nangal Kalan from Grand Trunk Road are through TDI’s grand avenues. Despite the fact that TDI is the biggest player in the region, several of its projects stand halted either because of stay orders or the unexpected demand slump in the region. Kingsbury Apartments constructed by TDI — the only up and running project — has 200 buyers. As for the rest of TDI City, which is meant to have nearly 7,000 apartments and luxury villas, construction seems to be in slow motion since 2006. The lowest priced apartment in the TDI was meant to stand at Rs 21.5 lakh. But today, a simple online check reveals a large number of disgruntled people who have paid the advance to TDI and are yet to get the apartment.

“The builders have not been able to pay the External Development Charges and Internal Development Charges,” says Gupta about the complaints by flat buyers. “We will cancel the licences if required. We have given notices to TDI, which says it will clear the dues in a given time-frame.”

More alarmingly, almost all these farmers are gripped by anxiety that builders have taken huge bank loans in their name. The GPA is ample proof for mortgaging a plot of land. The bank guarantee documents in their names (in TEHELKA’s possession) show an average Rs 15- 20 crore guarantee on loans.

Government officials rubbish these allegations. “The developer produces the bank guarantee merely to show its capability to build infrastructure such as roads, parks and schools,” says BK Saini of Sonepat’s Town and Country Planning Department. “The government has nothing to do with the complaints of these farmers. Their deal is with the private developer. If they feel that signatures have been forged, let them register FIRs,” he adds.

On a sunny winter day, a group of farmers sit in a square gazing at the fields, smoking hookah and pipes. Each one has a story to tell; of loss and resilience. “These people approached my father with policemen and asked him to sign the collaboration agreement. He did. This was being facilitated by Manger Ram, a TDI fixer. He’s from our village,” says 38-year-old Satbir Singh. “We came to know later that they went to Baghpat in UP and got a GPA for my father. They got another agreement registered. My father neither went there nor did it have his thumb impression,” he adds. Satbir’s father was handed about Rs 1 crore for giving up 5.5 acres. Satbir has been threatened several times by goons employed by TDI.

Dharampal, who is nearly 70 years old, butts in. “They have taken loans on my land — I have the bank guarantee papers to prove it. None of the documents bear my signature. They took the loans, but my signatures were faked. In 2002, my younger brother died. There’s a loan in his name also. His name is Rajpal Singh. We did not have partitions in the land. All three brothers have been living in the same household,” says Dharampal.

For 54-year-old Shakuntala Devi, a widow for the past decade, the world turned upside down when TDI came to her doorstep with appropriate papers. “They asked me to sign some papers and I did. That’s the mistake many of us committed. We were trapped like that. I have not received any compensation. I just got token money of Rs 28 lakh per acre — an agreement for payment,” she says.

EVER SINCE, Shakuntala and her daughter have fought relentlessly to get their rightful price for the land. When she registered a complaint with the Haryana DTCP, an inquiry conducted in her case concluded that there was no conclusive evidence for forgery, as she alleged.

However, as TEHELKA found, a letter dated 23 June 2009 by the Station House Officer of Kundli clearly states that the police inquiry established that the documents obtained in her name indeed had fake thumb impressions. Further, TEHELKA also has in its possession a certified letter from the sub-registrar of Tarn Taran which states that the GPA in Shakuntala’s name on the said date never took place. All attempts by TEHELKA to get a response from the private builders went in vain. Mailed questionnaires to the managements of TDI, Ansal API and Omaxe went unanswered.

Unlike in the case of land acquisition in parts of central India, where the farmers have waged a stiff battle against land acquisition, the farmers in Nangal Kalan are actually pro-industry in the interests of employment for village youth.

In Rasoi and Aterna, the villagers are facing desperate times, having completely sold their land and having spent the paltry compensation money. In Rasoi and Aterna — where Ansal API and Omaxe have more stakes — collaboration agreements and other formalities were conveniently done away with. Instead, the developer bought land from farmers via brokers.

Sahab Singh, 35, used to own four acres. A broker, Susheel Bharadwaj, representing the Ansals, approached Sahab’s father Ramender Singh. “They took my father to Ethnic India, a resort nearby,” says Sahab Singh. “Drinks were served and Susheel cut a deal with him for Rs 24 lakh per acre.” However, when the settlement was made, the family got just Rs 15 lakh per acre.

The family went to court but lost the case. Now it is worth nearly Rs 2.5 crore per acre. Sahab Singh’s land was transferred by Susheel to Ansals, which eventually went into the TDI kitty.

Four other men who have lost their land, who are 70 plus, nod on as Sahab speaks. Ironically, the youth in Rasoi, who otherwise had the option of agriculture, are getting employment as security personnel or as labourers in the projects that are coming up on their land.

However, in Rasoi, TEHELKA found a landowner who had entered into a genuine collaboration agreement with Ansal API that will ensure stable regular income for the rest of his life. Jasbir, 45, used to grow wheat and rice on two acres. The deal he struck got him 3,000 sq yd of developed plot and Rs 9 lakh for the rest of the land.

“This kind of loot has become common in Haryana after the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government took over. Master Plans are changed for the sake of the builders. Who will inquire into all the scandals in Haryana?” says former CM and Indian National Lok Dal supremo Om Prakash Chautala. “The Rajiv Gandhi Education City is a classic example of how farmers are being cheated. Everywhere, fake documents are brought out to acquire land.”

When reminded that TDI and other builders got licences from his regime, Chautala says, “Giving licence to builders is a mere formality. But creating an atmosphere for loot is Congress behaviour. Even the CBI is there to serve the Congress.”

Policy matters aside, on the administrative front too, there’s a tardiness that’s incomprehensible in recognising the mess in land deals. Whereas officials doggedly deny any illegality or suspicious handling, they accept that there may have been mistakes and wrongdoings in the past.

Both the DTCP, Chandigarh, as well as the officials at the Sonepat district level, concede the murkiness when documentary evidence is shown to substantiate the allegations made by villagers.

Thus, a region, which was meant to be the most desirable residential area in the National Capital Region, has turned out to be a messy affair, with no progress on ground and discontent abound.
Read more
Reply
34 Replies
Sort by :Filter by :
  • The story at a glance

    • Haryana’s land acquisition policy of 1975 is a farmer-friendly legislation but builders still find ways to cheat farmers

    • General power of attorney (GPA) papers are being drawn up in neighbouring cities with forged thumb impressions

    • Officials in charge of town development say they can do little if there is forgery – farmers should file FIRs

    • TDI is setting up a township in Sonepat over 1,500 acres, making it the largest private player in the region

    • In the master plan, this area was earmarked for software parks and industrial zones, hence farmers refrained from using it for other purposes

    • In 2004, the Haryana Urban Development Authority issued a notice for acquisition of this land, which few farmers saw

    • A rumour went around that the government compensation would be low. This is when the builders approached farmers with better deals

    • Several private projects stand halted either because of stay orders by courts or the unexpected demand slump in the region

    • A group of farmers led by a former sarpanch are carrying on a silent battle using RTI and other means

    • Builders have allegedly taken loans against the land using GPA, making farmers liable for repayment, without their knowledge


    Thanks to Tehelka
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by ThePunjabi
    The story at a glance

    • Haryana’s land acquisition policy of 1975 is a farmer-friendly legislation but builders still find ways to cheat farmers

    • General power of attorney (GPA) papers are being drawn up in neighbouring cities with forged thumb impressions

    • Officials in charge of town development say they can do little if there is forgery – farmers should file FIRs

    • TDI is setting up a township in Sonepat over 1,500 acres, making it the largest private player in the region

    • In the master plan, this area was earmarked for software parks and industrial zones, hence farmers refrained from using it for other purposes

    • In 2004, the Haryana Urban Development Authority issued a notice for acquisition of this land, which few farmers saw

    • A rumour went around that the government compensation would be low. This is when the builders approached farmers with better deals

    • Several private projects stand halted either because of stay orders by courts or the unexpected demand slump in the region

    • A group of farmers led by a former sarpanch are carrying on a silent battle using RTI and other means

    • Builders have allegedly taken loans against the land using GPA, making farmers liable for repayment, without their knowledge


    Thanks to Tehelka

    Haha.. Dear its not a scam ..sum of the small patches i ln TDI . City are under litigation.
    and every knoew abOut thoSe patChes ..
    So this is just a romour and fake news to confuse investors..
    And noThing can be done to those people who have bought plot here .. As these are freehold
    Property. Unlike noida or greater noida which is totally on lease...:bab (59):
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by sauravsbban
    Haha.. Dear its not a scam ..sum of the small patches i ln TDI . City are under litigation.
    and every knoew abOut thoSe patChes ..
    So this is just a romour and fake news to confuse investors..
    And noThing can be done to those people who have bought plot here .. As these are freehold
    Property. Unlike noida or greater noida which is totally on lease...:bab (59):


    These are not my views or claims. This is what a well known media outlet has published. I have just cut and pasted the story as it is.
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by ThePunjabi
    These are not my views or claims. This is what a well known media outlet has published. I have just cut and pasted the story as it is.


    this is ridiculous n funny. the way this firm (tehelka) has portrayed that rates have gone up frm 20 lakhs to 2.5 crores frm 2004 to 2012 and farmers were paid "only" 20 lakhs per acre, well thats happened because those were the prevailing rates at that time in 2004 and if people all over india who sold their properties in 2005 start demanding compensation because of increase in price today then we r heading towards a comedy show. even i sold a flat 2 years back which is costing a lot more today.. am planning to goto court too :p
    after greater noida came noida, then noida extension, then gurgaon now sonepat. may b one day farmers will say the land of rashtrapati bhawan was not taken legally frm them.
    a lady in the article said tht she signed on papers because she was asked by builders to sign on it.. these farmers r more fussy about signing papers than an urban person and noone is such a novice in today's world. what did she take 20 lakhs per acre for then (in 2004) ?
    they shud also remember that increase in prices came across only because of development in their areas, othrwise nobody will b interested to buy anything in greaternoida/noida/gurgaon/sonepat/bhiwadi.
    these magazines shud see such stroies with an open mind and shud b looking at both sides of the coins. these people whom they r trying to potray as 'poor people' are actually not so poor, n the magazine shud hav spared a thought for those who have bought only tiny pieces of land for huge amount of money (200 sq yard for 40 lakhs, etc).. r they lesser humans ?
    this non-sense has to stop one day
    CommentQuote
  • Well said Ruchika. While I agree with you on most points there could be some truth in the article as well. Its just that farmers are getting greedy & after having seen UP fiasco which had Supreme court supporting farmers, they are just playing spoil-sport and trying to fleece as much more. However, some cases of what is being claimed in Tehelka of forged fringerprints could be true as well & I would have sympathy for those poor farmers who very expolited thus...purely by private bulders-politician nexus.

    Gehun ke sath ghun bhi pista jaata hai :bab (65):
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by Harmeet9000
    Well said Ruchika. While I agree with you on most points there could be some truth in the article as well. Its just that farmers are getting greedy & after having seen UP fiasco which had Supreme court supporting farmers, they are just playing spoil-sport and trying to fleece as much more. However, some cases of what is being claimed in Tehelka of forged fringerprints could be true as well & I would have sympathy for those poor farmers who very expolited thus...purely by private bulders-politician nexus.

    Gehun ke sath ghun bhi pista jaata hai :bab (65):


    did u say "poor farmers" ? well i hav no sympathy for these farmers and they arent poor by any stretch of imagination.
    they shud hav given pics of sons of those old fellows whose pics they hav published and u wud hav realised their true colours.
    even if they dint knw where they were signing and for what they were signing, still they got 20 lakhs per acre in 2004. so for a 3 acre land they wud hav got 60 lakh ruppees. now thats 60 lakhs .. not in 2012 but in 2004.. we all knw what 60 lakhs meant 8 years before..
    these farmers n their kids create all kind of nuisance n ruckus with this money (feeling like kings.. example, killing toll guy at gurgaon, etc.) and then when their money finishes aftr spending on lavish lifestyle and liquor, they demand for more money and compensation, etc.. and they potray themselves as "poor farmers"
    CommentQuote
  • What I meant was those guys who have not been paid anything but probably their thumb impressions were faked. I am not contesting your other points Ruchika. Would you not feel bad for someone who's been duped!
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by ruchika1
    did u say "poor farmers" ? well i hav no sympathy for these farmers and they arent poor by any stretch of imagination.
    they shud hav given pics of sons of those old fellows whose pics they hav published and u wud hav realised their true colours.
    even if they dint knw where they were signing and for what they were signing, still they got 20 lakhs per acre in 2004. so for a 3 acre land they wud hav got 60 lakh ruppees. now thats 60 lakhs .. not in 2012 but in 2004.. we all knw what 60 lakhs meant 8 years before..
    these farmers n their kids create all kind of nuisance n ruckus with this money (feeling like kings.. example, killing toll guy at gurgaon, etc.) and then when their money finishes aftr spending on lavish lifestyle and liquor, they demand for more money and compensation, etc.. and they potray themselves as "poor farmers"



    If some farmers have done wrong...one cannot blame all farmers ...go to just 60kms outside delhi and see condition of small farmers...it is difficult to see mankind struggling like that also..
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by Harmeet9000
    What I meant was those guys who have not been paid anything but probably their thumb impressions were faked. I am not contesting your other points Ruchika. Would you not feel bad for someone who's been duped!


    in the whole article not even one case is mentioned in which farmer wasnt given anythng in return of thumb impression. they got money
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by vatsalbajpai
    If some farmers have done wrong...one cannot blame all farmers ...go to just 60kms outside delhi and see condition of small farmers...it is difficult to see mankind struggling like that also..


    we r not talking abt farmers frm andra pradesh, orissa or all farmers including those 60 kms away.. we r discussing abt farmers who r claiming more money in gurgaon, noida, greaternoida, sonepat etc
    CommentQuote
  • Well, let's not forget these farmers are the one that feed us & we owe them their share of worth. Ever wondered of the farmers who commit suicide just because they are who debt ridden & cannot feed their families.

    Yes, sometimes when luck favors them (like the ones around Delhi) the farmers keep going to courts - first the lower / district courts, then the state high courts & finally sometimes even Supreme court simply because each court keeps on raising their enhancements. If we place ourselves in their , would you or me too not have done this if we could get a fair/better price.

    This is all understandable...the main culprits are the middlemen...Huda/pvt builders, who do not pay these farmers their due in first place & eventually when Court decides in farmers favor, these middlemen simply pass on all the burden to the end-users (of which i am a kind) can only crib & feel cheated by the farmers whereas its always the middlemen that play & enjoy all the perks. I have a Huda plot in Gurgaon Sec 5. where I have to pay enhancenments which amount to 3.8 times the original cost & still have not got the possession of the plot. Whereas the High court awarded 1216/- per sq.yard as final compensation for farmers the cost Huda charged on the plot owners is a mind-boggling enhancement ie 8100/- per sq. yard. Who would you balme here the farmers who kept on asking for their right through-out or Huda.

    Your comment though about the spoilt brats of the fly-by-night rich but illiterate farmers who have not seen enough money in their lives but suddenly have so much that they go bonkers & become a nusense is very fair comment but an overall view need to be a balanced one. :bab (6):
    CommentQuote
  • An extract from the article:
    'Dharampal, who is nearly 70 years old, butts in. “They have taken loans on my land — I have the bank guarantee papers to prove it. None of the documents bear my signature. They took the loans, but my signatures were faked. In 2002, my younger brother died. There’s a loan in his name also. His name is Rajpal Singh. We did not have partitions in the land. All three brothers have been living in the same household,” says DharampalDharampal, who is nearly 70 years old, butts in. “They have taken loans on my land — I have the bank guarantee papers to prove it. None of the documents bear my signature. They took the loans, but my signatures were faked. In 2002, my younger brother died. There’s a loan in his name also. His name is Rajpal Singh. We did not have partitions in the land. All three brothers have been living in the same household,” says Dharampal'

    I know the article is a long one & it takes time to go thru it fully. In any case, I mentioned that there is a likehood of such cases & those deserve sympathy. Any way, I presume it is difficult trying to convince you & I actually have no intention of doing it either..so best of luck!
    CommentQuote
  • If the story of THELEKA is factual and true,Then it is really a bombshell for TDI and other builders in Kundli area.Builders greed can go to any level to earn money.
    Zameen aur Kameen ka bolbala
    CommentQuote
  • Originally Posted by Krazy Yuppie
    If the story of THELEKA is factual and true,Then it is really a bombshell for TDI and other builders in Kundli area.Builders greed can go to any level to earn money.
    Zameen aur Kameen ka bolbala


    if that happens, it will b a bigger bombshell for whole of NCR including gurgaon, noida expressway, noida new sectors, greater noida and bhiwadi where farmers r coming out with similiar demands.
    i knew sumone will come out with this conclusion which u came out with mr krazy thats y frm the very begining was not in the favour of even posting one post in this thread.
    now instead of everyone else not favouring the topic, will sound as if they r favouring it..
    n for ur info nw nthng can b done as people hav already done registries n hav started living in TDI etc. so at the most sumthng like what happened in gurgaon sector 52 will b done tht people will hav to shelve out sum money n give to farmers, but tht too wont happen in this case.. so dont b so happy n excited.
    this is my last post here. bye
    CommentQuote
  • Shocker for TDI investors and Shaker for Kundli.
    CommentQuote