Not content with protests and demand for higher compensation for their lands, over dozen villages around the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida have devised an innovative way to get adequate media attention.
Around 1,000-plus villagers from the affected villages in and around the race tracks have bought F1 race tickets, worth R30-35 lakh, from the money they got from the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) three years ago. According to villagers, they will attend the race and lodge their protests from ?within? the venue.
From October 23, the villagers have already lined up a spate of protests outside the F1 tracks, demanding a resolution to their grievances. The F1 race has also managed to unite all factions of the farmers, including the Zila Kisan Mahasangh, Anti-Hi-tech City Sangh, Kisan Sabha and the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti.
F1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix (October 28-30) has attracted top brands and corporate honchos who have booked special spectator boxes to watch the event. Sources say over R1,000 crore is riding on India?s first Formula 1 race. While advertisers are shelling out 30% of this amount, the rest will come from the sale of tickets. Most top advertisers are supporting the three-day event. These include Airtel, Vodafone, Hero MotoCorp, Mahindra, Renault, UB Group, Red Bull and Mercedes.
Farmer leader Virender Dhada told FE the land acquired was for setting up industries and the villagers were paid compensation accordingly. ?Instead of selling the land to industries, the authority later sold it off to Jaypee Group which built the Buddh International Circuit, a commercial venture. Farmers should get appropriate compensation and a minimum of 7% aabadi land near their villages along with some other basic requirements,? said Dhada.
Another leader, who is the sanchalak (coordinator) of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, said: ?We are going to stage a silent protest from October 23-28. If the authority fails to fulfill our demands by October 28, we will continue the protest and may also disturb the race. ?Some farmers said they had bought tickets in bulk costing R3,000-6,000. Some of the villages which fall in the vicinity of the F1 track are Jaganpur, Atta Gurjam, Gunpura, Atta Fatehpur, Derikhuban, Auranpur, Munj Kheda, Dankaur, Silarpur and Sugan Nagar. Another farmer leader said the villagers would meet at Atta Fatehpur on October 23 after which they would stage a dharna near the track.
YEIDA CEO Pandhari Yadav told FE: ?We?ve given compensation to the farmers. Yes, there are reports of their protest but the authority cannot keep on listening to their demands even after two-three years of land acquisition. We are in talks and since the matter is sub judice we cannot say anything.?