Naresh Yadav, a resident of Gurgaon’s Naurangpur area, speaks of August 27, 2004, as a “dark day”, which altered the fate of several residents of his area and “robbed them of Rs 1,500 crore”.
When Yadav sold off four acres of his land that year, at a rate of Rs 20-25 lakh per acre, with the threat of acquisition by the government over his head, little did he imagine that the same area would be re-sold for Rs 4 crore per acre just three years later.
Yadav is among the 250 landowners who were allegedly “duped” by the government of Bhupinder Singh Hooda between 2004 and 2007, into selling their land at throwaway prices, as the government claimed it needed to procure the same for setting up an Industrial Model Township.
The state had issued a notification expressing its intent to acquire land amounting to 912 acres for the purpose, affecting primarily Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula village in Gurgaon.
In the three years that passed between the notification and the government’s August 24, 2007 order, declaring it was dropping the acquisition, 400 acres of land had been sold by farmers, desperate to procure as much money as they could in exchange for the land.
After over 10 years of deliberation and struggle, they claim to feel vindicated today, with the Supreme Court scrapping the land deals Monday.
“Over 200 families were affected by this. We were tricked into selling our land to builders, who were purchasing it at a rate of around Rs 1 crore even 20 days before the acquisition was dropped,” said Om Parkash Yadav, a resident of Manesar, who spearheaded the farmers’ movement and cases.
“Some families had land left in other areas, which they are surviving on even now. But many were rendered homeless and now live on rent. Manesar is an industrial area though, so most have not been left hungry; they managed to find some source of employment,” he said.
The feeling among residents today is one of anger, mingled with resentment. The land, they say, meant much more to them than just crops and money. “As farmers and landowners, our biggest attachment is to our land. It is a part of our family history and has a lot of sentimental value. It is priceless. But to be robbed of it in such a deceitful manner, that is very hurtful,” said one of the affected landowners.
“The courts can hold officials accountable and offer us monetary compensation, but that land is gone forever. In many places, construction has already started. We can never get it back,” he said.
In order to ensure that they receive their due, however, the affected families intend to hold a panchayat in Manesar village at 9 am on Thursday morning, to discuss the issue, and agree upon the compensation. Reiterating this point, Pradeep Yadav, who was also affected, said, “This was our ancestral land, which we were coerced into selling for a few lakhs.What did the builders do to it that within days it became worth crores?”