The authority said the land belongs to DDA and the demolition was being done on an National Green Tribunal (NGT) order.
NEW DELHI: Delhi Development Authority (DDA) on Wednesday freed the Yamuna Khadar at Nangli Rajapur village adjacent to Sarai Kale Khan of encroachments by farmers, who were growing vegetables and flowers, as part of a demolition drive being conducted for the past three days. DDA officials said they plan to free 4,806 acres of such land within the next few days.
While the farmers, whose crop was destroyed, said their livelihood and shelter are both lost now, the authority said the land belongs to DDA and the demolition was being done on an National Green Tribunal (NGT) order.
Officials claimed NGT had prohibited cultivation of crops on Yamuna floodplains as the vegetables grown there could be “highly contaminated” and their consumption could even lead to cancer.
Crops of radish, spinach, okra, bitter gourd, brinjal and mustard were destroyed by the bulldozers early in the morning. “DDA has wrongly taken away the joint agricultural land of the village. We had recently sown the crops and the seeds were expensive. Instead of targeting our farmlands, the government should raze down the illegal colonies on the floodplains,” said Sultan Singh, a farmer.
“In 1995, the government gave us Rs 27 per bigha as compensation when they acquired some land. We were promised alternate plots and jobs, but the promise has not been fulfilled,” said Rajinder Singh, another farmer.
Independent studies have shown that the alarming levels of pollution in the Yamuna has had an adverse impact on soil and groundwater on the floodplains. The farmers, however, claimed they do not used the polluted water from the river but irrigate the crops through borewells. They added that they don’t use insecticides.
A 2012 study carried out by TERI had indicated the presence of heavy metals in vegetables grown with water from the Yamuna. This prompted many cases to be filed in courts against the farming activity. NGT had passed the order in response to a petition filed by activist Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan.
Mishra, however, said the order says that farming should be stopped only if it harms the environment. “Using the NGT’s directive to evict farmers is wrong,” he said. He added that if the farmer leased the land from the government then it can acquire it, but not under the shield of the NGT order.