HC scraps land acquisition for roads, utilities in new sectors of Gurgaon
Land acquired to build roads and other public utilities in Gurgaon’s new sectors after August 2013 has been cancelled by the high court, a huge setback for the Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda) that has been asked to conduct the process again. The judgment, although an interim one, affects over 1 lakh homebuyers who have invested in apartments along the Southern Peripheral Road and Dwarka expressway, along which most of these new sectors (68-115) have been built.
A two-judge bench of the Punjab and Haryana high court ordered fresh land acquisition, ruling that the state acted in haste to circumvent provisions of the new land acquisition law, which came into effect in 2014. It ordered Huda to take back the compensation it paid and acquire the land again under the new law. Apart from the apartments in the new sectors, the ruling also puts a question mark on construction of the Central Peripheral Road (CPR), which has now become a part of the Dwarka expressway. Residents of the new sectors are already facing problems because of poor road and civic infrastructure.
But Huda officials said they believed they would overcome this challenge as the Authority had paid compensation much higher than the prevailing market rates, and they would put that before the court in subsequent hearings.
Delivering the judgment dated September 5, justices Rajesh Bindal and Gurvinder Singh Gill, while hearing petitions challenging acquisition of land under the Land Acquisition Act 1894, observed that state acted hastily to issue a notification by the end of 2013 to acquire this land. The new law — Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act — considered more beneficial for land owners came into effect in 2014.
Huda had acquired around 800 acres, including around 100 acres for CPR, after paying compensation of Rs 6,000 crore. It has already distributed around Rs 4,000 crore to land owners and has prepared a scheduled to hold camps in every village for distribution of the remaining Rs 2,000 crore, with both the Dwarka expressway and SPR nearing completion.
“We will approach the court to highlight the fact that land was acquired for road and infrastructure work,” said Huda administrator Yashpal Yadav, adding he was hopeful of some relief.
The recovery of Rs 4,000 crore is a huge worry. “It will have a big financial implication and can further delay the construction of road and other infrastructure in new sectors,” said a senior Huda official, adding they hoped the state government would come up with a solution.
An official familiar with the development, said if Huda fails to get relief from the court, the government may opt for a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with land owners. “Huda can simply ink MoUs with these land owners under which they keep the compensation and the land remains in possession of Huda,” said the official. He, however, conceded it would be a complex and time-consuming process if it came to it.