Congress leader Raj Babbar on Thursday accused the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh of "forcibly acquiring" land from farmers for the proposed international airport in Gautam Buddh Nagar's Jewar.
Mr Babbar, the chief of the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress, Thursday visited the region in western part of the state adjoining the national capital, Delhi, and met with the locals.
An international airport is proposed to be developed in Jewar. Over 1,300 hectare of land from five villages - Rohi, Parohi, Dayanatpur, Ranhera and Kishorpur - is to be acquired during the first phase of the green field project. A total of 5,000 hectares of land is to be acquired for the green field airport estimated worth Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 crore.
"The BJP government is forcibly acquiring land from farmers in the name of (making) an airport in Jewar. The new land acquisition act, which was made due to efforts of (Congress national president) Rahul Gandhi clearly says that the government cannot acquire land from farmers without their will and proper compensation. Today I witnessed this 'sarkaari dadagiri' in Jewar," Mr Babbar tweeted.
Some landowners, including farmers and villagers, initially resisted the land acquisition citing various reasons such as "inadequate" compensation amount and related benefits besides the resettlement policy.
By mid-September around 71 per cent farmers and land owners in the five villages had given their consent for land acquisition, according to district officials.
According to the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the consent of at least 70 per cent of land owners is mandatory for government to proceed with acquisition of land in any such project.
BJP leader and Jewar-Greater Noida MLA Dhirendra Singh, however, said that Mr Babbar's statement was motivated to "capture space in the press" but his government was committed to "ensuring development" in the region.
"As of now, 74 per cent people have given their consent for land acquisition. It is only people from the Samajwadi Party or the Congress who are opposed to this because they can't see the region getting developed. Our aim is to get this airport made so that jobs can be generated for the youth locally and also help in the growth of northern India," Mr Singh, who had quit the Congress to join the BJP in January 2017, told PTI.
He claimed that most of the people who joined Mr Babbar's programme in Dayanatpur village on Thursday were "outsiders".
"Hundreds of vehicles from outside had come along with people for the event," Mr Singh said. He added that if any land owner was aggrieved they could take a legal recourse.