Govt reaches out as farm stir call clogs parts of E Delhi, NCR | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Govt reaches out as farm stir call clogs parts of E Delhi, NCR

By, , Noida/new Delhi
Feb 09, 2024 06:34 AM IST

Commuters in Delhi, Noida, and Ghaziabad faced hours of traffic congestion as farmers' protests brought traffic to a standstill. The protests, demanding compensation and developed plots for land acquired by the government, were eventually called off after assurances from the Uttar Pradesh government and Noida authority. The protests come ahead of planned farmer marches in Punjab and Haryana.

Commuters travelling between Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad were rooted in their spots for hours on Thursday after a protest by a clutch of farmers’ groups brought traffic to a standstill on either side of the Capital’s eastern border for the majority of the day The agitation was finally called off at 6pm, following assurances from the Uttar Pradesh government and Noida authority, which said they would form a panel to address the farmers’ demands.

A traffic jam at the Chilla border as farmers from UP sought to march towards Parliament. (Sunil Ghosh /HT Photo)
A traffic jam at the Chilla border as farmers from UP sought to march towards Parliament. (Sunil Ghosh /HT Photo)

The chaos on Thursday came even as Union ministers Piyush Goyal, Arjun Munda and Nityanand Rai flew into Chandigarh, five days before farmers groups in Punjab and Haryana were slated to kick off a march towards Delhi off their own, seeking minimum support prices (MSP) on crops and farm loan waivers.

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Agitators in Noida were demanding hiked compensation and developed plots against land that the Centre acquired from them over the past 40 years to develop the township, a protest that simmered on sporadically in the Uttar Pradesh city for nearly two months, but snowballed on Thursday.

The protests began at 12pm, stretching travel times for people heading towards Delhi from the two satellite cities as well as for those moving between the city’s eastern and central parts as farmers headed towards Parliament from Noida and Greater Noida,

However, they were stopped at Delhi-Noida border points at the Mahamaya Flyover, Dalit Prerna Sthal, and Chilla borderby columns of police personnel around 1pm. Protesting farmers, however, stayed put at the border throughout and early into the evening.

“We wanted to inform the state and central governments that the Noida authority has not been addressing our demands. We had to end the protest because the police stopped us on the Delhi-Noida link road,” said Rinku Singh a farmer from Nagli Wazidpur village at the site.

Noida Authority CEO Lokesh M said, “We are looking into farmer’s issues and resolving them.”

The protests brought back memories, even if briefly, of the year-long farmers’ agitation between November 2020 and December 2021, when agricultural workers agitating against the Centre’s three farm laws camped at Delhi’s borders in Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri. The demonstrators had back then called off their agitation weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that his government would abandon the contentious laws. Parliament repealed them on November 29, 2021.

Farmers from Noida and Greater Noida have protested against the state and Noida authority’s land acquisition compensation policy for months. Last month, agitating farmers also locked up the gates at the Noida authority headquarters and halted work for that day.

The protesting farmers were from a clot of key farmer groups based in Uttar Pradesh.

Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader Rakesh Tikait joined members of his outfit at the protest in Greater Noida. In Noida, the protesters were led by the Bharatiya Kisan Parishad (BKP), whose activists have held camps outside the local authority office since December 2023.

The farmers are demanding 10% of the total land acquired for their families, permission to use residential land for commercial purposes, hiked land compensation for everyone who gave up land, better jobs and health benefits from the government.

Farmers have been protesting outside the Noida authority office since December 18. They announced the march towards Parliament a week ago.

“We decided to vacate the Delhi-Noida Link Road and return to our homes because the officials have assured us that they will address our demands. If they do not keep their word, then we will restart out protest,” said Sukhbir Yadav, who is leading the protest under the banner of Bharatiya Kisan Ekta Sangh.

Noida police on Thursday stopped farmers at the city’s borders at the Mahamaya Flyover, Dalit Prerna Sthal, and Chilla border, with thousands of officers and dozens of barricades deployed to keep agitators away from Parliament.

However, this left people stuck in nightmarish traffic on the streets, especially during the morning and evening rush hours, as jams snaked for miles. Snarls were reported at the Delhi-Noida Link Road passing through Chilla border, the Delhi-Noida Direct (DND) Flyway, Noida-Kalindi Kunj border, Delhi-Meerut Expressway and NH-9 passing through UP Gate border, and Vikas Marg, all of which are considered lifeline routes for commuters travelling to central and south Delhi from Noida, Ghaziabad, Meerut, and parts of east Delhi.

As motorists tried to wiggle out of the packed highways and border routes, the chaos also spilled over onto other arterial routes in Delhi. The Delhi traffic police reported lengthy snarls on Ring Road between Rajghat and Ashram via Sarai Kale Khan, Barapullah Elevated Road, Vikas Marg between Preet Vihar and ITO, Pragati Maidan Tunnel connecting India Gate Circle from the Ring Road, Mathura Road via Pragati Maidan, Kalindi Kunj-Sarita Vihar Road via Kalindi Kunj border, and Mathura Road between Badarpur and Ashram.

Several commuters in Delhi and Noida HT spoke to said they had been caught in traffic for more than an hour, while those stuck at the borders were hemmed in for several hours, with no movement in sight.

People blamed poor traffic management on the police’s part and said officers should have pre-empted the chaos.

“It took four hours for me to reach Sarita Vihar from Pari Chowk in Greater Noida,” said Om Raizada, a commuter who lives in Greater Noida’s Sector P3.

“@dtptraffic Traffic is halted on Entry point of #kalindikunj from Noida to Delhi. Long Traffic queues. Please look into this,” a user named Jagdeep Singh posted on X (formerly Twitter) at 9.30am.

Senior traffic police officers said the congestion was largely because the blockades led to slowdowns at all 22 of Delhi’s border points. They added that 500 personnel were deployed to regulate traffic and keep the farmers restricted to Uttar Pradesh.

“Traffic was slow and affected during the morning peak hours as our personnel were checking vehicles at borders by placing barricades to ensure the protesting farmers did not enter the city. We had issued an advisory on Wednesday about possible traffic congestion due to our security and traffic arrangements on the borders,” said additional commissioner of police (traffic) Dinesh Kumar Gupta.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Vinod Rajput writes on environment, infrastructure, real estate and government policies in Noida and Greater Noida. He has reported on environment and infrastructure in Delhi, Gurgaon and Panchkula in the past.

  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Karn Pratap Singh has been writing on crime, policing, and issues of safety in Delhi for almost a decade. He covers high-intensity spot news, including terror strikes, serial blasts and security threats in the national capital.

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