The chairman of Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) Prabhat Kumar, said that officials met over 100 farmers of six villages in Noida, on August 15, 2018 and tried to clear their doubts regarding the land acquisition for the Jewar International Airport project in Gautam Buddh Nagar. “We met village heads and farmers of six villages, where land was proposed to be acquired for the project. They were given offers, regarding land rates and other benefits. If they (farmers) do not agree, the airport project might be dropped,” he said.
“The farmers were assured that their land will not be procured without their willingness, as per the instructions of chief minister Yogi Adityanath. The farmers will consider our proposal and respond. We hope for the best,” said Kumar, who is also UP’s agriculture production commissioner. Top officials of Gautam Buddh Nagar administration, including district magistrate Brajesh Narayan Singh held discussions with the farmers in Jewar, on August 16, 2018, to negotiate the deal.
As per the offer, farmers would be given Rs 2,300 to Rs 2,500 per sq metre, for the agricultural land that is to be acquired for an international airport in Jewar, along the 165-km Yamuna Expressway. Jewar MLA Dhirendra Singh said if the farmers settle for Rs 2,500 per sq metre, the YEIDA would not provide them rehabilitation and other services but if they negotiate the deal at Rs 2,300 per sq metre, the Authority would assist them in rehabilitation.
“However, the government will take a decision with mutual consent from the farmers. No farmer would be pressured for the land acquisition,” he added. During a visit on August 3, 2018, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had held a meeting with the farmers over the issue. He had then directed the district administration to resolve the concerns of the farmers and submit a report on the land acquisition in eight days.
The state government, in the first phase, wants to acquire 1,441 hectares from eight villages – Rohi, Parohi, Banwaribas, Ramner, Dayanatpur, Kishorpur, Mukimpur Shivara and Ranhera. Of these, three villages will be excluded from the acquisition process as of now, as land from Ramner, Mukimpur Shivara and Banwaribas will not be needed. The government will acquire a total of 5,000 hectares for the project and its estimated budget is Rs 15,000-20,000 crores. As per plans, the airport is expected to become operational by 2022-23. “If farmers agree to the offer, the land will bought by September and immediate payment will be made and the project will be inaugurated in October,” a senior official said.
Conceived in 2001, when Rajnath Singh was the chief minister, the Jewar Airport project has seen several hurdles, mostly owing to a tussle between the central and state governments. The plan was forgotten, after the BJP was voted out of power in Uttar Pradesh.
In the years that followed, the state saw the BSP and SP in the saddle. In 2010, then chief minister Mayawati attempted to revive the project. However, then UPA government at the centre raised objections, saying an airport in Jewar could affect business at IGI Airport in the national capital. When the SP came to power in 2012, it moved a fresh proposal for the airport to be built in Agra. After concerns were raised by the then defence minister over its proximity to the IAF base in Kheria, it was proposed that the project be moved to Firozabad or Saifai.
It was in 2014, when the BJP came to power at the centre that current union minister Mahesh Sharma, elected as MP from the Gautam Buddh Nagar Lok Sabha constituency, said setting up an international airport in Jewar was one of his top priorities.
In 2017, 10 months after the Civil Aviation Ministry asked the government to conduct a fresh techno-economic feasibility and obstacle limitation survey, YEIDA appointed engineering consultancy company RITES for the job. The project was put on fast track, after the BJP won the assembly polls in UP.