GREATER NOIDA: A group of villagers protesting an alleged delay in disbursement of rehabilitation and resettlement benefits stalled work on the Noida airport project in Jewar on Tuesday afternoon.

The protesters flocked to the site in Rohi village, where workers under a private contractor have been putting up a boundary wall. The villagers asked the workers to stop construction, threatening them with violence if they didn’t. In the face of a backlash, the workers had little option but to stall construction and leave their earth movers and dumpers at the site itself. It was the second consecutive day that work on the project was hit.

Later in the day, the group of farmers met the district magistrate at the Surajpur collectorate and submitted a list of their demands. A meeting between the protesting villagers and administrative officials was scheduled for Wednesday.

“It’s not that we are putting forth any fresh demands. The government has failed to give us whatever they had promised in writing. We have been holding meetings, discussions and panchayats peacefully but have not got any response yet. So, we had no option but to stall work on the project in Rohi,” said Hansraj Singh, a farmer at the forefront of the protest.

According to him, there were at least 300 families who were yet to get rehabilitation and other benefits. Officials, however, insisted that only a handful of families were left to be handed benefits in the absence of documents. “Only a few cases are left to be disposed of because of some technical issues. The land acquisition department is looking into them. We have, meanwhile, warned the villagers against taking the law in their hands. Police will be asked to initiate action if work is disrupted again,” said Rajni Kant, the sub-divisional magistrate of Jewar. While most villagers said they were yet to get rehabilitation benefits, some who have already shifted to Jewar Bangar alleged they were still fighting for basic amenities in the township that the government is building to relocate the farmers.

“No identity cards have been issued to the affected families as promised. The youths who are supposed to be given jobs are still waiting for training or skill development. We are being asked to pay Rs 10,000 each for new electricity connections at the township. We were told our old connections would be transferred. There is no water supply or drainage network either. A police outpost or security arrangements seems a distant dream. All these had been promised to us,” said Singh.

Officials at the Noida International Airport Limited (NIAL), the special purpose vehicle of the UP government for the project, said work on the civic amenities was underway. “Tenders have been floated to set up the remaining facilities. It is a matter of a few weeks. All the promised amenities will be available soon,” said an official of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), which is executing the work at the township on behalf of NIAL.

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