U-turn : Farmers say they can talk price with Authority
Noida Extension: Now they will,now they wont amid the many Uturns farmers,builders and the Greater Noida Authority (GNIDA) have taken since the Sahberi verdict two weeks ago,making the whole land row a whirlpool sucking in homebuyers,the farmers on Wednesday declared they were open to talks with GNIDA.Up to now,they had steadfastly refused to have any dealings with the Authority.
This shift in stance was brought about by the realization that dealing directly with builders,an option farmers had been harping on up to now,would not benefit all of them uniformly.Negotiating directly with builders will not solve the problem,as they will offer varied rates to farmers.Thus,we want the Authority to approach us with a good package that will help us secure a good future for our families, said farmer Vijay Singh,who had convened a meeting of villagers on Wednesday.
At the mahapanchayat (conclave ) of five Greater Noida villages Bisrakh,Patwari,Iteda,Haibatpur and Rauza Jalalpur in Bisrakh,farmers talked about working out an amicable solution to the current land acquisition crisis.Discarding their anti-Authority stance,the villagers decided they were willing to renegotiate with GNIDA for a suitable compensation package.
There was a tone of acceptance about the land acquisition as a done deal,and also the practical difficulties in returning to farming.Massive construction has been done.The land has lost its fertility.Thousands of investors have put in money,thus trying to turn the clock back now would be a colossal waste for all parties, said Vijay Singh.
Girish Tyagi of Rauza Yakubpur village,who is seeking return of his 18 bighas,said,The Authority has sold land to builders at the rate of around Rs 12,000 per square metre.It spent a small part of this money for development of land;we would be happy if even half of the remaining amount is paid to us.We dont want any confrontation with the Authority.We are talking among ourselves as to how best to deal with the land once we get it back, said Rajpal Singh Bhati of Bisrakh.
The villagers,however,said the Authority would have to come to them for talks.The CEO and senior officers have all our numbers,and must call us to discuss the matter.Actually,none of the villagers are against giving up their land.The HC order has created a fresh problem by quashing the acquisition itself.The main problem was the urgency clause and change in land use,not the development work, said Ajay Bhati,headman of Bisrakh.
The mood seemed sober even in Patwari village that had celebrated the court verdict favouring it,on Tuesday.Farming is no longer possible on land which has 20-25 floors rising from it, said Balraj Pradhan,a farmer in Patwari.On dealing with the authority,he said,We would have had no issue if the land had been taken with our consent;there should have been a neutral committee to decide upon the rates of land and the rehabilitation package that would be available to villagers.
A day after Allahabad High Court scrapped land acquisition at Patwari village,its just not the buyers,but also the builders who are reeling under shock.At least 11 developers in the Noida Extension area went into a huddle and then decided to meet the Greater Noida Authority chairman,Mohinder Singh.
They met Singh on Wednesday afternoon and tried to hammer out a strategy to stave off the crisis.While the developers claimed they are yet to calculate the exact impact of the high court order on their projects,they felt that seeking legal recourse was the only possible option.
It is too early to come out and say what our next step will be,but we are discussing details of approaching the Supreme Court against the high court order.We will become a party to the case and approach the SC,along with all buyers and developers in the area,seeking relief, said Getamber Anand,national vice-president of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association,speaking on behalf of all developers.We hope that the SC will take a holistic view of the matter,considering the voice of each stakeholder and give us directions to amicably resolve the issue, Anand added.
Around 50,000 private housing units were proposed to come in the Patwari area and according to developers,around 20,000 bookings have already been made in the area.The 11 developers affected by the Patwari order,meanwhile,have appealed to all buyers to be patient.
We are waiting for the detailed HC order to assess exactly how many and what parts of our projects have been affected.But we want to appeal to our buyers to be patient for some time.We are with all our buyers and to protect their investments and interests is a matter of priority to us, said Ajay Kumar,director,Amrapali Group.Parts of three of Amrapalis projects La Residentia,Ultra Home and Leisure Valley have been affected by the high court order.
Another developer,Supertech,whose Eco Village-I project falls in Patwari village said it was waiting for the HC order before discussing the issue with the Authority.The question of refund or relocation does not arise as yet and we need to wait.We will meet the Authority and decide if at all we have to seek legal redressal.We will protect our buyers interest and claim our losses from the Authority, said R K Arora of Supertech.
Developers have reiterated that the fault lies with GNIDA and that they will claim losses from the Authority.We could never have anticipated that acquisition of state land could be quashed like this.Patwari is different from Sahberi,where farmers were yet to claim compensation.So we went ahead and carried out construction at a good pace.Now our investments worth crores have been jeopardized.The state must soon find a solution, said Anil Sharma,chairperson and MD,Amrapali group.
Reposting for the benefit of a larger audience. Hope this is not against Forum Rules.
Everyone, it seems, is talking about the plight of "poor" farmers; be it the court, the politicians (all of them) or the media and even the bystanders (common folk who have not invested in Noida Extension). But are they really poor?? Isn't everyone misinterpreting the term Farmer. Our rural population of "Farmers" can broadly be divided between two categories Landowners which at best constitute 5% of India's rural population and Landless Labourers which make up the rest. The petitioners in the NE case are Landowners and not Landless Labourers. Everyone speaking on this issue needs to differentiate between the two.
For the sake of argument, lets set aside all other parties directly or indirectly related to or involved in this dispute (GNIDA, Builders, Buyers, BMW, Govt, Courts, Politicians) and talk a bit about these "poor" farmers.
Lets take the case of Mr. F the "poor" farmer who owns about 50 Acres of land.
In India the average net profit per acre per crop cycle works out to around Rs. 20,000; so if Mr. F does 3 crops a year (as their lawyer has claimed in the court) he pockets a cool Rs. 30,00,000 every year as net profit. Lets be generous and give Mr F some relaxation, let us for the sake of argument give him a 50% discount and assume that he earns only Rs. 15,00,000 per year. Obviously Mr F, being a farmer, does not pay any taxes. Taxes which help the Govt provide water, electricity, healthcare, education, security, law and order, etc etc etc. (And let us also forget the quality of these services for the time being, as its a much wider subject with a much wider impact). He does not pay any property tax either nor any sales tax.
Taxes are to be paid by the salaried class, the traders, the businessman, etc. For heaven's sake even the members of armed forces pay Income Tax, they are exempted from tax only if they are getting Disability Pension; but not "poor" Mr. F.
And since Mr. F is so poor, he is provided loans at 'subsidized' rates. Loans which are written off by the political party in power as and when needed by the political party, depending on their analysis of the forthcoming elections. Mr F buys fertilizers at 'subsidized' rates. Even seeds are made available to him at 'subsidized' rates. The diesel which goes into his tracter and pumps and generators is also sold at 'subsidised' rates. Mr. F also gets electricity at 'subsidized' rates.
Mr F hires Landless Labourers to work on his land during harvest season at the rate of Rs. 60 to 75 per day. Agriculture being an unorganized/unregulated sector, Mr. F does not have to pay any wages to his workers during off season. Mr. F does not pay or provide any employment related social benefits like PF, Gratuity, ESI, etc to any of his workers which is mandatory for Businessmen/traders in the organised sector. When his workers fall sick, they go to Govt run hospitals and seek additional income to sustain themselves under Govt funded schemes like NREGA. Effectively all these social benefits for Mr. F are once again subsidized.
To summarise, "poor" Mr. F earns Rs. 15,00,000 per year on the back of a series of 'subsidies'. "Subsidies" which are funded at tax payers expense. Almost every buyer in NE belonged to this group of Tax Payers who had been working really hard all these years so that "poor" Mr. F could continue earning a six figure sum every month.
Now lets take the case of Mr. M belonging to the typical Middle Class, who earns Rs. 3,00,000 per year, pays all the taxes to fund the 'subsidies' provided to Mr. F. So far properties in NCR which used to cost anything upward of Rs. 40,00,000 were beyond his limit and he had to continue living in rented accomodations.
NE came as a surprise blessing for Mr. M and thousands of Middle Class house holds as it was at a cost ranging from 10 lacs to 25 lacs.
Now thanks to the Greed of Mr. F, the dream of Mr. M to own a house of his own has gone for a toss. Worse still is the fact that the down payments made by him till date are gone as well, at least for the next few months.
The question I want to ask is, has justice actually been served by the honorable Supreme Court and honorable High Court. The lawyer representing the Landowners (I wont use the term Farmer which would also include Landless Labourers) said 1600 families would be affected by the 20th July judgement of the Allahabad High Court. But he did not mention how many of these 1600 families are actual landowners and how many are landless labourers, because as far landless labourers are concerned their plight is worse than that of the Middle class. And these labourers had lost their livelihood the day GNIDA took over the land in these villages. This judgement will bring no relief or benefit to them. They will continue being treated just as a statistic; nothing more, nothing less.
The landowners on the other hand are the only ones who will benefit from this decision. Govt had bought their land for few hundred crore rupees and then invested few thousand crores on infrastructure to make the area fit for residential/commercial use. Lets not ignore the most basic fact, which is- the cost of this land has gone up from Rs. 850 per sq mtr to 12-14,000 sq mtr after the Govt spent or promised to spend few thousand crores of, Tax Payers money, on developing infrastructure in the region. Without basic infrastructure like roads, water, electricity, schools, hospitals, markets, etc who would pay 12000 per sq mtr for undeveloped agricultural land.
And now that the Govt has spent Tax Payers money on developing the infrastructure the Landowners want more money. And our Courts have generously agreed to their plea and denotified the land. Dreams, hopes, aspirations and most importantly money of thousands of Tax Payers has been put on the back-burners so that few hundred landowners were not happy with few hundred crores which was given to them 3-4 years ago and wanted few hundred crores extra.
Builders have been making money so far and they will continue making money. A loss in 1 or 2 projects will not affect them as they are simultaneous working on dozens. Plus they always set up separate limited liability companies for each project; worst case scenario they will file for liquidation of their SPV created for their project in NE. Their other projects will continue without any troubles.
As far as politicians are concerned they are interested in UP only till the Assembly Elections. Politicians as a whole will start focusing on 2014 General Elections by this time next year and UP will no longer be of any concern to them.
The Officials of GNIDA will, in a worst case scenario, get transferred.
Media will find some new hot story / scam to follow.
The Landless Labourers, who lost their livelihoods 3 years ago, and the Middle class which had invested in NE projects will lick their wounds, say a few cuss words and get on with their daily struggle for survival. They never had a voice and they never will. Their concerns or needs were never important and they never will be. They will continue living the same life of obscurity that they have been living so far, nothing has changed in 65 years and nothing will.
After all this is India. Chalta hai Yaar.
DISCLAIMER: I am neither a Property Dealer, nor an investor in NE nor represent anyone directly related to the NE dispute. These are just my personal views as a citizen of India.
Rahul Gandhi urges youth to fight illegal land acquisition in UP
Raising concern over the illegal land acquisition by the Uttar Pradesh government, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday urged youth of the state to fight for the rights of their farmers.
Addressing 'Potential Candidates Meet' here, Gandhi said youth community of the state should voice the concern of the poor farmers, who were denied justice.
"The poor people's land was given to the builders in Noida and it was not about one acre or two acres, both Ganga expressway and Yamuna expressway covers the whole of Uttar Pradesh. Around 2000 kilometres of land of the poor people was given to the builders. Why is this happening? It is because the youth of this state has joined hands with the brokers of this deal. It is the land of the farmers through which they get employment, work and which provides food to the whole country, why should they not raise their voice? This question is not rising in the state," he said.
Meanwhile, activists gathered to meet Gandhi and participate in the meet had to face huge disappointment as all those above 35 years of age were denied entry in the venue.
Expressing anger, Vinamra Kumar, an activist said when Gandhi himself is 41 years old, then he should not have participated in the meet.
"I came from Fazilnagar to meet Rahul Gandhi but I never knew that only those who are below the age of 35 years are allowed here. I would like to point out that Rahul himself is 41 years old, so when he himself is ineligible, then he should have not come. We felt very bad when we were returned from the gate," he said.
"They have ousted us on the basis of our age. I am 39 years old and the General Secretary himself is 41 years old. So I fail to understand on what basis they are bifurcating us," said Rashi Khan, another activist.
Rahul Gandhi is on a two-day tour to promote membership campaign of the Youth Congress in Uttar Pradesh.
DAMAGE CONTROL: Preparations are on to appeal in Supreme Court against the Allahabad high court order
Investors are now pinning their hopes on Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority as the developers have failed to find a workable solution to give respite to homebuyers in Noida Extension.
The Greater Noida Authority is now contemplating seeking legal redressal. Rama Raman, GNIDA chief executive officer, said the Authority is consulting its legal experts as well as the developers to "minimize losses for the buyers". Raman added that preparations are on to appeal in the Supreme Court against the Allahabad High Court order.
"A judicial review of the Sahberi order is also a likely option. However, we are yet to discuss details of the same with our legal experts," added Raman.
"Unlike Sahberi, where minimal construction work has been done, a lot of work is already underway in Patwari. Around Rs 160 crore has already been spent for setting up the infrastructure like roads, electricity lines and sewers besides constructing institutional and residential units. This issue is more complicated than any other," Raman said. "We understand that the major burden of the land acquisition row is being borne by the buyers as they have invested huge amounts in the residential projects. Our effort is to ensure that an effective solution is found for all the affected parties," he added.
Very Good strategy for Land grabbers:- First grab someones land and construct a big structure and then justify land grabbing by saying that since I have constructed a structure, I should be made the owner of the land.