Adding glamour to Ghaziabad’s skyline, a number of showrooms, hotels and even malls have come up in Sahibabad area’s Link Road that runs from Maharajpur Border (Anand Vihar) up to Mohan Nagar. The Sahibabad Industrial Area was carved out of 7 villages that were acquired by UPSIDC way back in 1966 and the land acquisition was done over a period of time from 1966, 67, 69 up to the early 70s, said noted green & RTI activist Sushil Raghav who pointed out that the 7 villages were Maharajpur, Jhandapur, Karkar Model, Bhovapur, Sahibabad, Prahladgarhi and some portion of Makanpur. A total of 1,682 acres was acquired by the state for development of industry and the area came to be notified as ‘industrial’ by the Governor.
But many of these industries got sick and were lying dysfunctional for the past several years. However, of late this area has seen a resurgence with many of these industrial units—especially near the Link Road and other connecting roads—have converted into fancy showrooms, hotels and malls.
According to Raghav, “Even if the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) Ltd has given permission for change of land use or CLU it is illegal to run these commercial shops as the land has been notified as industrial.” He added that in many cases no CLUs were imparted but still these commercial establishments were running illegally right under the nose of UPSIDC officials.
Raghav has filed a number of RTIs with the UPSIDC. He alleged that all this activity started with the connivance of officials during the previous regimes in Uttar Pradesh, especially during Mayawati’s tenure, when Babu Singh Kushwaha was a minister and who illegally gave the go ahead for building a hotel here. This started the chain of illegal CLUs. He has also written a number of letters to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and other senior officials in Lucknow and claimed some movement into the issue he has raised.
Raghav said when the land could not be used for its original intended purpose—that is industry then it should be returned to farmers.
“This is a major scam as the poor farmers’ land was taken away for peanuts by applying the draconian Land Acquisition Act 1894 that left them with no option when acquisition took place. But now, the area along and near the Link Road is surreptitiously and gradually being converted into commercial zone. If the industrial units are becoming sick then the plots upon which they are built should be handed back to the farmers,” he remarked.
The area boasts of some of the largest industries in entire Delhi-NCR, such as Magnum Papers, Bhushan Steel, Bisleri, among others.
But Raghav had claimed that all malls & business parks, leading car showrooms and hotels that are built on industrial belt are illegal, as land use cannot be changed by UPSIDC.
Meanwhile UPSIDC Regional Manager, Smita Singh on being asked about the illegality of commercial establishment being run along Link Road – as alleged by Susheel Raghav, said that she was not aware of the past decisions but spoke about action she has been taking against the illegal banquet halls that were mushrooming in Sahibabad area but which do not come under industry category and hence were illegal.
Smita Singh said that her team had taken action against 10 such illegally running banquet halls that have been sealed by the UPSIDC team while a number of others have been served notices. She said that there was stay on some of the such encroachments and illegal constructions but as soon as the “stay is cancelled we will move in to seal these also”, she said.
Singh said that although UPSIDC handed over the maintenance tasks to Ghaziabad Nagar Nigam a long time back in 1991, the UPSIDC still conducts anti-encroachment drives in parks and public spaces inside the industrial area for the convenience of the industry. She also said that post 2007 no CLUs have been permitted.
But the larger issue pointed out to by Raghav—that of illegality of CLUs from industrial to commercial- remains unaddressed. Meanwhile, Raghav also enunciated the illegality of handing out CLUs and permissions to other companies in the past by UPSIDC that is a company itself. “Where is it written in the Companies Act that one company can give CLUs and approvals to other companies,” he quipped.
Recently, the state government announced that UPSIDC will merge with UP State Industrial Development Authority. This will mean that the erstwhile UPSIDC will have similar powers like a development authority has meaning it will have more teeth to fight encroachments in industrial areas.
However, the state government is keen on unearthing the past illegalities and Raghav claims to be in touch with high ranking officials of the state.
–Prasoon Pant, Editor, delhincrnews.in