NEW DELHI: With close to 3300 acres of agricultural land, Dichaon Kalan near Najafgarh is one of bigger villages in the city to be taken up for urban development under the land pooling policy. Largely dependent on farming, mainly of cauliflower, the villagers are gradually giving up their family occupation as it is no longer profitable. They are now compelled to sell their land.
But most farmers are for now holding on to their land as property prices are likely to go up. In the past few years, the price went up from Rs 70 lakh to Rs 3.5 crore per acre and it's likely to go up even further with DDA implementing the land pooling policy. "There is no profit in farming and the government has made it even more difficult. Eventually, we will have to sell the land but we are in no hurry," says Mahipal Singh (65), whose family owns 44 acres.
DDA is looking for farmers like him who can provide large land parcels but Singh isn't excited. He and other farmers are apprehensive about the policy since it focuses on creating housing and commercial facilities on their land without caring to develop their villages. The fact that villagers might not get their share of the land, which DDA will return, in the same village is worrying them. "What's the point of getting land in some other village? We don't mind if we get less, but it should be in the same village. Moreover, it will take years to develop the new areas and villagers don't have resources to wait for that long," says Singh.
The biggest hurdle before the DDA in implementing the policy is this trust deficit. Going by past experience, farmers are sceptical about the time-frame for implementation of the policy and development of the area. They fear they will suffer like villagers in Narela, Bawana and Dwarka. "Villagers suffer as the government has no plan for developments of villages. It's been over a decade and these areas are yet to develop," says Singh.
While approving a proposal to declare 50 out of 89 villages as urban for the policy, the North Delhi Municipal Corporation had put a condition that DDA will make a plan for developments of these villages. But the Delhi government returned the proposal saying the condition should be removed. "There is housing requirement in the villages. There is a need to notify extended Lal Dora, redevelop the villages and provide basic facilities," says Moti Ram, a retired Indian Air Force personnel, who has sold his land to developers.
Eight kilometres from Dichaon Kalan is Baprola village. The farmers here don't want to even know about the policy. Almost two decades back, Delhi government had acquired close to 100 acres of land for a Swarn Market (jewellers' hub) and other commercial centres. The government had planned to develop a knowledge-based industrial park here but the Rs 2000-crore project is yet to see the light of day. "The villagers sold their land hoping the project would generate employment. But today our children have to travel long distance for work," says Jawahar Singh, a retired Army personnel, whose land was acquired for the project.