In a small room where he has set up his office, Shri Ram Avtar Shastri, an old resident of Nithari village of Noida in an interview to Yuva Foundation narrates the story of development of Noida. He says “In 1976, Sanjay Gandhi who was a popular leader at that time was looking for new pieces of land to expand the area of Delhi. He visited Gautam Budh Nagar district of Noida along with N.D Tiwari- then chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. He immediately realized the potential of the area for development. N.D Tiwari implored him further to choose this area as it would lead to development in Uttar Pradesh. Sanjay Gandhi who was known to be a decisive and a proactive leader immediately called the concerned authorities, demarcated the boundary and established New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA).
Shri Shrawan Gupta, a slum-dweller of sector 8 in Noida narrates a bleak story of the development of the city. “We are the people responsible for development of Noida. We have worked as construction labourers in Noida building roads and constructing buildings and drainages” says Gupta. He further adds “We were brought into the city by The Noida Authority for development work. They did not provide us with any housing facility and settled us in jhuggis. It was only after immense struggle that we were provided with some land in sector 26 of Noida in 1996 by the U.P Government.”
Similar views are echoed by Shastri. “We had to continuously fight for our fair share of land for over thirty years. First we appealed in The District Court and then moved to The High Court where we were allotted land at the price of twenty eight rupees and twelve paise per yard. However many people including farmers who were uneducated did not get their share of land. They did not know how to fight for their rights. When they went to lawyers seeking help, they were turned away saying there was no scope for success. They lost all hope and gave up their fight” remembers Singh.
Both of them are also critical of The Noida Authority for failing to provide basic civic amenities. Shastri recounts. ”In July 1976, all the villages in this area were declared a part of Noida. We were promised that new maternity homes and dispensary will be constructed and that atleast one youth in every household will be provided with a job. They also said that we would be a part of welfare and plot allotment schemes of the government.” However Shastri adds that the reality now is different. “Our children can’t even go and play in the parks because residents of the sector complain to the authority that outsiders are entering their parks.” He also mentions that the private players who have been contracted by the authority to collect garbage and clean the surroundings show laxity in their jobs.
Gupta lamented the authority for their incompetency in providing adequate supply of water to the people living in his slum. He criticizes the authority for failing to build a primary school or a primary health centre in his area. As far as electricity is concerned only a few people have an electricity connection. He segregates the development of Noida into two parts. On the one hand is the rapid development and mushrooming of residential areas whereas on the other hand is the stagnant development and dilapidated condition of slums. ”People in sectors lead such a beautiful life, what about our life?” asks a desolate Gupta.