It is another Greater Noida project gone wrong, as the Uttar Pradesh government is in the middle of a new land deal controversy, and coming just ahead of the assembly polls in the state. The latest controversy is about the Union environment ministry asking the state government and private builder Ansal API to stop work at the 2,400-acre ‘wetland’ area at Dadri in Greater Noida. This land was sold by the UP government to Ansals for a housing project. The ministry had earlier slammed the UP government for polluting the Ami river.
While a senior official in the ministry of environment and forests said a show-cause notice had been issued to both builder and state government for immediate stalling of the project, as it is unlawful to sell wetlands, the Ansal group has denied getting any such notice. According to the spokesperson at Ansal API, home buyers will not get impacted as construction will not stop.
The company executive argued the land being termed ‘wetland’ is a ‘recorded Bhumi Dhari/ Sirdhari tenancy land’ of various land owners. It is not a government department-owned wet land or forest land, he said. “The impression that government has allotted a wetland to Ansals for a township is incorrect,” a spokesperson said.
A UP government representative handling the issue told the media that it was “perfectly legal” to have sold off the 2,400-acre land to the Ansals for developing a residential township. The problem, according to the district administration, is that the actual wetland area spread across an area of less than 1,500 sq metre is surrounded by around one lakh sq metre of uncultivated private land. It was often confused to be part of the wetland area itself, he added
The Ansal spokesperson said the company had all the sanctions and clearances in place. “The land was acquired directly from the farmers,” he said. “We have got specific direction about maintaining the wetland. We are strictly following it,” he added. The show-cause notice has been issued under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act, which allows the Centre to intervene.
An analyst said similar notices were issued to developers in the past, including in Gurgaon’s Sultanpur lake area. “A few developers had bought land in the ‘silent zone’, which is five km from the Sultanpur Lake area,” he pointed out. “However, as the policies became clear, their projects got stalled and money stuck.”
The 2,400 acres of wetland is home to over 5,000 migratory birds, even from Europe and Siberia.
“We are maintaining the natural water bodies, ponds, lakes and natural currents passing through our area without interruptions.” said Ansal API. The environment and pollution control authorities, it added, had been inspecting the works. No infringement of conditions of clearance has so far been noted, the company claimed.