Besides being a vital infrastructure link, the Yamuna Expressway’s inherent design included a plan to kick-start growth in the region by attracting industry. PC Gupta, CEO, Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA), in a candid interview to Reality and More’s Editor Palash Roy, talks about a gamut of issues including the road map and the road traveled till now as well as the huge potential of this region to make its mark as an industrial hub.
PR : What is your roadmap regarding the future development of the Yamuna Expressway?
PG: Six Jan pads were notified when the Yamuna Expressway authority was constituted – Gautam Buddh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Hathras, Agra and Mathura. There are about 1,189 villages and 2.36 lakh hectare land in this area – a very big notified area from here to Agra. The Expressway was visualised in 2001 and the project was completed in 2012, inaugurated in 2012. The Notified Area is in two parts, one is in NCR (Gautam Buddh Nagar and Bulandshahr) while the remaining four are outside the NCR. In the first phase, we prepared a master plan for the NCR area, which is the 2031 Master-Plan phase-I, which caters to Bulandshahr and Gautam Buddh Nagar districts, which is of about 24,000 hectares. Of these, about 20 percent is reserved for industry and 19 percent for residential, 21 percent is green, 1 5 percent is for transport and the rest for institutional and other activity. So while the basic objective of the Authority is industrial development and promoting industry, as an ancillary, housing and other activities are happening. So our roadmap is to create a conducive environment to attract the industry.
PR: What are you doing to create that conducive atmosphere?
PG: Things required to attract the industry include good connectivity, good infrastructure, uninterrupted electricity and security – which is the state government’s job. But we are also involved in providing good infrastructure to police etc but something like electricity generation is not in our hands, which is handled by either the private players or the government. But we provide the network for distribution and transmission. As per the 2031 Master-Plan, the power requirement would be 5,500 MW, and in the next year, nearly 1,000 MW is required. So what we are doing is helping the infrastructure to be prepared so that the industry does not face power problems.
PR: How much has Formula One (F1) helped in boosting the prospects of the Yamuna Expressway?
PG: Formula One is an annual activity. But it has a worldwide effect. People are coming from outside and we have got recognition. People have seen the kind of development that has happened and is happening. So after Formula One, queries from the industry have
increased. Many industrial groups are now coming forward asking for land.
PR : So the industry is enthusiastic?
PG: On November 12 itself, one industrial house came asking for 200 acres for a technology park. Many more are asking for 100, 200 acres, or for even smaller plots. Many have come to scour the area.
PR: Were they happy with the facilities and the infrastructure?
PG: They were very happy and now they want us to communicate with a scheme so that they can take the matter forward.
PR: How will it change the entire scenario once the new land acquisition act comes into force? Will it be difficult or easier than before for you to acquire land?
PG: I don’t think there is any such issue in Noida, Greater Noida, or the Yamuna. The proposed law provides for enhanced compensation by two times in urban and by four times in rural areas, and if the acquisition is for private parties then it should have the consent of 80 percent people, and for the PPP model, the consent of 75 percent. We already have similar provisions. In most of the land acquisition that we have done, we had agreements with the consent of more than 80 percent of the farmers.
PR: What about the compensation part?
PG: As far as compensation is concerned, in absolute terms if you see, we are giving ~50 lakh per acre as cash compensation. In addition, 7% of the land acquired is being returned after development for residential purposes. If you convert that in monetary
terms, we are returning land of about ~30 lakh value per acre. So it comes to about ~80 lakh per acre. The circle rate here on average is ~600 per sq metre which means ~20 lakh per acre, whereas we are already giving about ~80 lakh per acre. So I don’t think we will face any problem in land acquisition after the new law. It’s a different thing that there are some farmers who are still demanding more. Recently, in a case in Greater Noida, the court has ordered compensation that is 65 percent more than the~50 lakh per acre we have already given.
This is after the agreement and consent of 80 percent of villagers. The agreement said that this will not be challenged in any court of law and no increase in compensation will be demanded later. Now since this has happened in a neighbouring authority, here also some farmers have started demanding the same. So such things will keep coming, but I don’t think we will face any problems due to the new law, because we are already giving compensation on similar lines.
PR: So you say the new law will be beneficial?
PG: Beneficial to the farmers, yes. The new law will increase the cash component in the hands of the farmers and they have started realising this.
PR: Has the traffic on the Taj Expressway link been on expected lines?
PG: The entire expressway is in three parts, one is from Zero Point, Greater Noida, to Jevar which was expected to see 30,000 vehicles per day. From Jevar to Mathura-Raya interchange, 9,000 vehicles per day was estimated, and from Raya to Agra again about 9,000 vehicles per day were projected. The average traffic per day now is one-third of this projection. The figure of 30,000 is also estimated to go up to more than a lakh per day by 2041 when the 36-year-long concession comes to an end.
PR: So it seems unlikely as of now that the traffic target will be achieved?
PG: I analysed why this happened. In 2003, when this was visualised, the Taj trapezium was included in the plan but was later canceled due to a court order. The proposed Jevar airport has now been shifted to near Agra. This was also included in the projection. They had also included the proposed development along the Yamuna Expressway in their projection, which also did not happen due to various reasons. So these are the reasons for which the projections are not being met. But as the development happens, the volume will start increasing, but it is difficult to say how much it will increase or whether the projections would be met.
PR: What is the status of the NGT show-cause notice on groundwater extraction issued to the authority?
PG: We are doing 100 percent compliance on all NGT orders. Builders have been strictly instructed not to extract groundwater for construction purposes. All the tubewells have either been removed or sealed. Now, they are taking water from sewage treatment plants for construction purposes. Since the NGT has issued the directive, we have to comply but there are certain practical problems. We get water here at 20 feet. So if anybody is planning a double basement the groundwater has to be dewatered, otherwise, you cannot lay the foundation. So now we are also thinking of making it a rule that will be no double basement. Luckily we don’t have that much construction activity here but it will gather pace in the times to come, but we will comply with the NGT order. Earlier, groundwater extraction was prevalent which saved a lot of costs be it from transportation, storage, or transmission.
PR: Are you monitoring the compliance of NGT instructions?
PG : Yes. Our teams are conducting regular surveys. The good thing is that the NGT not only summoned the authority but also the builders. Each and every builder is a party to the case and everybody is summoned, so we don’t need to communicate separately. There is straight one-on-one communication. Out of fear of the law, everyone is complying.
PR: Do you plan to launch or offer new land schemes in the near future?
PG: We are planning many such offers and schemes and many are already in the pipeline. One industrial scheme of 500 small plots is currently ongoing, one scheme of 600 small plots is already being subscribed and the allotment of which is about to start. In a couple of months, we will come out with a scheme for bigger plots, the groundwork for which is now on. Apart from this, there is a very good scheme of mix-land use, in which plots would be allotted for a core activity which could be industry or anything, for which 75 percent of the land will have to be dedicated. The remaining 25 percent will be for other activity which may be residential, commercial, or institutional. So this is an integrated concept. While setting up an industry, you can also set up display rooms, showrooms, residences and institutions for workers and others, and all this will be in one integrated complex.
PR: When are you going to launch this scheme?
PG: Probably in the next couple of months. Apart from industry, we will also come out with schemes for warehouses, as we see a lot of
potential for this as it is a command area for dedicated freight corridors. So, logistics-related schemes such as packaging, warehousing industries have good potential.
PR: Which other industry do you envisage to have potential in this region?
PG: Recreation is one more industry that has potential in this region. This includes theme parks, amusement parks. In fact, some celebrities have shown interest in this. Some Bollywood personalities from Mumbai have shown a keen interest.
PR: Who are the celebrities who have shown interest?
PG: I should not take names now. 5anjay Khan wants to take 1,000 acres of land near Agra for a theme park. Similarly, there are others.
PR: But in your authority which are the celebrities who have shown interest?
PG: One of the celebrities is Rajpal Yadav along with some of his partners who want land for a theme park. Apart from that, there are a lot of queries for the agro-industry. People want to set up big diary projects comprising 100 acres, want to get cows from Denmark, and such kinds of projects. So there is a lot of potentials and people are enthusiastic.
PR: So in how many years do you see a big change in the landscape of the region?
PG: In the next five years, I think there will be major changes with lots of industrial activity.
PR: You are saying there will be a plethora of schemes for industrial plots in the next few months. say by the first quarter of the next calendar year?
PG: Yes, one can expect a lot of schemes, a mix of schemes to be announced, provided the Election Commission does not issue the model code of conduct within that period.
PR: Anything else you would like to tell that the Authority is doing or will be doing?
PG: What I can say that there is a shortage of affordable housing. In October, we launched a scheme of 4,400 multi-storeyed one-room flats of 30 sq metres, costing about ‘f7 lakh, which was oversubscribed. One more scheme catering to the LlG and MIG segments is currently on, which has 60 sq metre and 100 sq metre multi-storeyed flats, costing between ‘f16 lakh and ‘f27 lakh. People with less income can subscribe to such schemes by paying 30 percent now and the rest in the next eight years.
PR: Do you plan to come out with more such schemes of affordable housing in the near future?
PG : Yes. We are also asking the builders to reserve certain portion of their projects for the MIG and LlG segments.
PR: Will you be making this mandatory?
PG : Yes. We will take the proposal to the board. If we get the board’s consent, then it will be mandatory.
PR: When this will be taken up on the board?
PG: In a month or two, probably sometime in December.
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