Fight for land

, by Frontline

In Greater Noida, farmers resist fiercely attempts to take over their land for the Yamuna expressway and a hi-tech city.

IT is a tale of two worlds, one in the present and the other in the future; one living and breathing and toiling away in parts of the National Capital Region and the other beautifully blueprinted and waiting to be willed into reality by the government and its elites in the city. The dreams of tomorrow, however, may not have room enough for the realities of today. The Yamuna expressway proposes to reduce the travel time from Noida to Agra by two hours. A hi-tech city on the highway proposes to develop the region further. But for the people of the twin villages of Bhatta and Parsaul in Greater Noida and hundreds of other villages all the way up to Agra, this project means giving away their agricultural land and with it their livelihood.

On May 7, Bhatta and Parsaul saw violent clashes, with the police and government officials on one side and the residents on the other. Eight people, including two policemen, were killed and around 100 went missing. Following this, a few arrests were made, a curfew was imposed and construction of the expressway was stopped. The residents of the two villages were agitating for better compensation for their land on which the hi-tech city and the expressway are to come up.

Political parties were quick to enter the scene. High drama unfolded as Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi entered the curfew-ridden villages and addressed a meeting. He was arrested, but his presence galvanised the Congress rank and file in an environment filled with anger against the high-handed ways of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government led by Mayawati.

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