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‘Noida better than Gurgaon’

In February this year when the Akhilesh Yadav Government appointed Nagendra Prashad Singh, a 2005-batch IAS officer, as District Magistrate of Gautam Buddh Nagar, its primary objective was to pacify the agitating farmers and fast-track the development projects which have been pending in the district adjoining Delhi. Singh (55) was instrumental in settling farmers’ disputes when he was Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of the Noida Authority during Mayawati’s rule. This time around, too, he is close to success, having acquired most of the land for the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) and Indian Railways’ regional station. “We’ve acquired most of the land. Only two villages, Dalelpur and Gulawali, are pending. They too are expected to come around in a month,” he says in an interview with Narendra Kaushik. Excerpts from the interview:

Why is law and order so bad in Gautam Buddh Nagar district?
Where is it bad? A perception has been created. It is the builder lobby in the NCR (National Capital Region) that creates these wrong perceptions. Otherwise, if you impartially compare incidents occurring in Gurgaon and Noida and the response of the police, you will find Noida better.

Crime happens in any developing society. The police’s role is to respond to it quickly and try to work out the cases. I do not think there is a major law and order issue. In the last three months, I have not come across any law and order issue. There are no major disputes between industry and labour, between institutions and students-no major student movement, no labour movement and no major peasant movement. I do not find any major law and order challenge here.

There are only individual crimes. There are sociological reasons for it. If you analyse those crimes, you will find a majority of them happening in villages between relatives-uncle fighting nephew, etc. There may be some miscreants in certain pockets of Greater Noida. I do not deny it. In any developing society it happens.

We have recommended addition in police strength. Police vehicles are in adequate number. These are provided by authorities. We are going to hire 200 ex-servicemen for traffic management in Noida. The Noida Authority has agreed to pay their salaries.

We have suggested appointment of a consultant. Let him assess how much police force we will need for traffic, law and order, and investigation.

img-jun15-29Why have you failed to bring industry to the district and, particularly, Greater Noida?
Entry tax is a problem. Industria-lists are annoyed about entry tax. We have asked the government to relax it. Raw material which comes to the city gets costlier due to the entry tax. Land acquisition was an issue here. People did not want to invest due to land disputes. Finally, the dispute has been settled by the Supreme Court. Now investors will come to us.

Noida and Greater Noida were planned as hubs for industry. You have good infrastructure. Yet Gurgaon is way ahead of you. Why?
Gurgaon is not way ahead of Noida. It is only a perception. Noida was lagging behind due to land disputes. The Gurgaon model is that people buy land and get the land use changed. In Noida, the Authority acquires land and allots it.

Basically, you need undisputed land for industry. Infrastructure and law and order in Noida are better than in Gurgaon. Only land was a negative factor. After the Supreme Court judgment, things will move faster.

A number of central projects-DMIC, regional railway station-have not taken off due to delay in acquisition of land. Why?
We have acquired most of the land. Only two villages, Dalelpur and Gulawali, are pending. I am trying to sort it out. Every week we are holding meetings with railway officials for a freight corridor. It will be sorted out by June 15. We are on the right track.

Why is connectivity (physical and digital) bad in the district?
For connectivity, a Noida-Greater Noida metro will come up in two or three years. There is a reason for poor net and mobile connectivity. There was a dispute about installation of mobile towers in residential colonies. Now the authorities (Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway) are going to frame an environment-friendly policy for this.

Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma has proposed an airport in Jewar in the district but the UP Government appears to have decided to take it to Agra. What is the status?
No state minister has opposed development of an airport at Jewar. The minister only said that there should be an airport in Agra too. There should be airports in Meerut and other places too. The State government has no objection to Jewar airport.

One keeps hearing about violent clashes between farmers of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh in Greater Noida villages. We are told 32 villages of Greater Noida are affected by this. How long would you take in sorting out the boundary dispute?
The boundary dispute was resolved by the Dixit Commission in the 1980s. Haryana has already installed pillars on its side. Uttar Pradesh is going to install pillars. Clashes are reported when farmers of Haryana walk into fields belonging to farmers of Uttar Pradesh and vice versa (the Yamuna keeps altering the geography of the area).

What have you done to arrest illegal sand mining from the Yamuna and Hindon beds?
I have seized as many as 200 dumpers, 200 trucks, imposed penalty of Rs. 2 crore and put 22 criminals behind bars. I have set up camps in villages near the Yamuna to enlist their cooperation. I have succeeded. Now people are informing me. I am conducting surprise checks to stop the menace. Till date I have carried out about 10 surprise raids at night.

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