BARAPULLAH PHASE 3 Holding up the project are landowners from Nangli Razapur who are locked in a dispute with the Delhi government over the rate of compensation for two stretches of land totalling 8.5 acres
NEWDELHI: Just two patches of land, measuring 500 sq metres and 250 sq metres, are holding up the ₹1,260 crore, 3.5km-long Barapullah Phase 3 project for the last three years.
Had it been completed by its scheduled deadline of October 2017, the high-speed elevated road, which will connect Mayur Vihar-1 in east Delhi with the existing corridor of Barapullah Phase-1 at Sarai Kale Khan, would have let commuters bypass the congestion and the hours-long snarls en route to Noida from Delhi.
Holding up the acquisition are landowners who live in village Nangli Razapur, 7km from the site, and are demanding a higher compensation for the land totalling 8.5 acres. However, the worst affected will be small-time farmers.
Manakchand, who came to Delhi from Badaun in UP, started growing vegetables on the Yamuna floodplains as a tenant farmer. “I came here because agricultural prospects were limited in my region due to depleting water levels. I spent ₹10,000 on constructing a kaccha (mud) house on the floodplains. Now, I hear I will lose my shelter as the land is to be acquired for the road project,” he said.
Another farmer Munna Lal, who lives in the same area, is also facing a loss of livelihood. “We don’t know any other job skill other than growing crops… Such (road) projects are important but the government should also provide some alternative employment for people like us.”
Construction of Barapullah Phase 3 started in 2015 and was scheduled to be completed by October 2017, but the acquisition of the two patches of land proved to be a hurdle and the major work on the project has “stopped”.
A social impact assessment (SIA) study done by Ambedkar University— a report was submitted in March to the Delhi government — says tenants, who have temporary settlements in the area, would be the worst affected. The report recommended the resettlement and rehabilitation of eight of the 16 tenants.
Budhaditya Das, who was associated with the SIA, said the project-affected families included not just landowners but also those whose principle means of livelihood were dependent upon that land.
Of the 16 tenants in the area proposed for acquisition, most live in mud houses, have little or no formal education, and have no access to basic amenities such as sanitation, safe drinking water and electricity. “These tenants, in all likelihood, will be pushed into poverty if they lose their livelihood and land to the acquisition, and are not rehabilitated. Eight tenants are likely to lose their houses while the others will lose a part or whole of their farm-based livelihood,” the report said.
“Compensation should be awarded to the landowners based on the fair market value,” the SIA report recommended.
The project envisages the construction of a 3.5km elevated road across the Yamuna floodplains to improve connectivity between east, south and New Delhi.
Once completed, it will cut the travel time between east and south Delhi to 20 minutes from the current 60 minutes.
THE DISPUTE OVER PRICE
Das said the price of land is the critical issue in this case; landowners are willing to part with their land, provided their compensation is on a par with the market value. “The price at which the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) has transferred land to public works department (PWD) for the Barapullah project, in the same location, is the most accurate approximation of the market value of land. This price should be considered as the fair market value while awarding compensation,” the SIA said.
According to SIA, the DDA granted permission to PWD in April 2015 for the construction of the elevated road, subject to the PWD making a payment of ₹3.15 crore per acre for the allotment of land.
Landowners have demanded ₹7 crore per acre from the PWD— a demand that the PWD termed “unreasonable and unacceptable” while rejecting it.
PWD officials explained away the project delay as “procedural” as the land was yet to be acquired. The officials said even after land is acquired, it will take them at least a year-and-half to complete the construction.
PWD minister Satyendar Jain said the “delay” was not on the government’s part. “The PWD will complete the project only when they are given the land. Land related matters fall under the jurisdiction of the L-G (Anil Baijal),” he said.