In Jewar Resettlement Town, New Homes, Life Brings New Challenges | Latest Delhi News
Smoking a hookah on a sunny January morning outside his brand new home, Vijay Pal Chauhan (65) is still not happy.
“In our village, I was always surrounded by people. But in this canton, I spend most of my time alone. I’m not used to living like this,” said Chauhan, who was recently relocated from Rohi, one of seven villages acquired by the government for a new international airport in Greater Noida.
In November, it moved to the sprawling 48-acre resettlement township on the outskirts of Jewar, where villagers from Nagla Ganeshi, Nagla Sharif Khan, Nagla Phool Khan, Nagla Chhittar, Kishorepur, Rohi and Dayanatpur Kheda were relocated . Adult family members whose lands were acquired were allocated plots of varying sizes via an online lottery, based on the size of their homes in the acquired villages.
Developed by the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (Yeida), the township will be home to more than 3,500 families from the acquired villages. More than 600 families have moved in, some with their buffaloes as well as new cars purchased with the compensation money.
But most villagers say they are struggling to navigate life in what the government calls a model township. What troubles them most is not just the lack of promised amenities such as a community centre, school or health centre, but the “loss of a rural way of life, livelihoods, neighborhood and community feelings” in their new location.
“My neighbours, whose families lived next to ours for a hundred years, are no longer my neighbours. Even my three sons have plots in three different parts. We all lived together in our house in the village; now we live separately,” Chauhan said. “Moving to this place disintegrated my family.”
Sushila Devi, her sister-in-law, said she had not met most of the women in her village for more than two months, although many had moved here. “It looks like they’ve changed, or maybe they don’t have time for me anymore,” she said. “Even my own daughters-in-law now live apart.”
The family tractor is parked in front of the house. “It’s a useless machine now because we don’t have any land to farm, but I don’t have the heart to sell it,” Chauhan said.
While most Rohi villagers sold their livestock as there was no provision in the new township to house stables, some like Chauhan chose to bring them anyway. He turned a 50-meter plot allotted to one of his sons into what he calls a pashuwada. “I know it’s not allowed, but buffaloes have always been part of our farming family,” he said, pointing to two buffaloes and a cow tied up outside the shed.
A few hundred meters away is Pocket 5, where families from the village of Dayanatpur Kheda have resettled. Nitin Kumar’s is one of the families who settled here. Like Chauhan’s, a tractor stands in front of Kumar’s new house.
“We sold all our agricultural implements such as harrows, tillers, plows, but we did not sell the tractor, which was a symbol of pride for us in the village,” said Kumar, who is studying in a local college. “Most people, including young people, worked in agriculture, which was their main source of income. There is no commercial space here, so we can’t even start a business.
His family spent about ₹30 lakh building the new house. “We also bought agricultural land in Khurja district, 40 km from here, because the land gives us a sense of security. Our family lives on compensation money from ₹1 crore. At this rate, we will soon run out of money.
His uncle, Hoshiyar Singh, who got land next to his in the township, said while the young people are doing well after the move, the lives of the elderly have been turned upside down.
“A village has its own rhythm of life. You get up early, you go to the fields, you take care of your animals, you spend time at the chaupal, but here we all sit at home and do nothing,” Singh said. “This place is a concrete jungle. Imagine what it must be like for villagers who have lived their whole lives surrounded by trees and agricultural fields.
A few children are playing cricket in the park in front of his house. “This park is everything to us – our chaupal, our playground, our one piece of greenery,” Singh said. “The displacement has brought a new social order to the village. All the villages had mohallas based on their caste, but here they all live together, so far in harmony.
While the township does not yet have the promised school, community center, crematorium, cemetery and health center, the roads are paved and each residential pocket has its own park. However, most homes are not yet connected to water and electricity and rely on generators. There is no shopping complex, but a few villagers have opened grocery stores and pharmacies.
Gabbar Khan sits outside his home in Pocket 7 in the township, where he lives with his wife and five children. The pocket is home to families from Nagla Chhittar, a village dominated by the minority community, most of whom were landless farm workers. The poverty is reflected in the homes in this part of the township where, unlike Pocket 1, which has large homes and new cars, most of the homes are small, one-story structures.
“I sold my goats because I had no place to keep them here. They were my source of income. I sold their milk. In addition, in the village, my family also found work in the agricultural fields as labourers. Now we have no more work. We didn’t have any land, so we got no compensation apart from that land and little money for the small brick house I had in the village,” said Khan, who set up a stall. of eggs in front of his house in the new township.
Her neighbor Shaira intervenes: “My buffaloes provided us with 15 kg of milk per day. Now I buy 1 kg of packaged milk every day to make tea. I cannot afford to buy enough milk, even for my children. I’m going to somehow buy a buffalo and keep it there, whether it’s allowed or not.
But what worries Shri Pal Singh (70), retired director of Dayanatpur Kheda, is the absence of a crematorium. People, he said, have to travel about 10 km to cremate the dead near their razed villages. “Even our mail arrives at our old addresses, where our homes are just mounds of rubble. People here face many problems that no social impact study could have taken into account.
Surendra Singh, Divisional Commissioner (Meerut), who is also Rehabilitation and Resettlement Commissioner for the airport project, said the government is addressing the issues.
“We have purchased land for the crematorium and cemetery near the township and they will be ready soon. The call for tenders for the school has been launched and that for the community center will be launched after the elections. The township will have all the facilities promised in the resettlement and rehabilitation program.
But Chauhan in Pocket 1 isn’t entirely sure that will change anything. “The officials promised that they would reproduce our villager here. But that is not possible. Our villages are gone for good, and so are our joys and pleasures of village life.