Barely 100 metres away from Noida Link Road near Mayur Vihar Phase 1 Metro station in the Yamuna floodplains, Ramshri’s family was the first among the 50-odd families affected by preparations for the World Culture Festival. These families earn livelihood as tenant farmers. They cultivate the land given by them to ‘contractors’ and in return pay a fixed amount to them.
At about 1 pm Wednesday, Ramshri sat on a cot in the field and gazed at ‘her’ patch of land where a bulldozer ran through two days ago to make way for vehicles to be parked during the event. She and her family of eight had hoped for good produce of spinach, mustard, fenugreek leaves and cauliflower. Their crop and hopes lie crushed.
Ramshri is hoping there she will be compensated. “Two days ago, people came and bulldozed the farm land to pave way for vehicles to pass. Most of the spinach and mustard cultivation is gone now.”
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She added that authorities have stopped water supply on one side of farm land. “If the spinach had grown a little more, I could have at least used the seeds for sowing it for the next crop. Now, I can’t even use it.”
Ramshri and her husband came to Delhi 20 years ago to work as tenant farmers. The family moved to this location about eight months ago and was cultivating 10 bighas of land. “We have suffered a minimum loss of Rs 20,000 due to the event. We have heard that we will be compensated Rs 4,000 per bigha,” she said.
The new paved way has divided their farm area in two parts. A few metres from Ramshri’s hut, another family is working hard to get access to water in another part of their land. Kishan, who has been farming at this place for the last 15 years, directed his brother to bridge the now divided land for free flow of water.
Kishan, who cultivates five bighas, said one of the contractors had given them permission for a short supply of water. “Most of our land falls on the side where they have stopped access to water. They say water will create muck and the vehicular movement will be in trouble. What about our trouble?”
As Kishan spoke to The Indian Express, a Delhi Traffic Police vehicle stopped near the recently dug area for water flow. An officer told Kishan he was not allowed to dig land for flow of water. “Meri naukri khaaoge kya tum? Paani nahi jayega yahan se. Raaste mein poora kichad ho jayega aur gadiya nahin jaa payengi (Will you cost me my job? Water will not flow from here as there will be muck all around and vehicular movement will be a problem).”
The officer advised Kishan to use iron pipes for water flow. When Kishan tried to reason that there wouldn’t be any muck, the officer responded, “Tera naam kya hai aur phone number de apna. Meri bhi jamin hai, chaar-paanch din mein bina paani ke koi fasal kharab nahi hota hai (Tell me your name and number. I too have land, the crop will not be destroyed without water in four to five days)” Kishan refused to give his mobile number.
The pradhan of farmers in the area said land of about 80 people had been affected. “They have bulldozed the whole area. There is police with them,” said Pradhan Subedar Singh Yadav.