GNA officials said the houses were built on a prohibited green belt, meant for a link road between Greater Noida and the National Highway 24 in Ghaziabad. GNA officials said 35 houses were demolished, but residents alleged that the figure was much higher.
In retaliation, residents pelted stones at police, torched the office of Palm Olympia property developers and placed burning tyres on the road as demolition teams moved in with bulldozers.
The villagers alleged that several people, including women and children, were injured in the police action. Police officers, however, maintained that no one was injured.
Officials said that plots on the green belt were sold by some builders even after repeated warnings by the authorities. They said the residents were “planted by property dealers” trying to usurp land in the area.
“Some daily wage workers were living there. At least 95 per cent of the structures demolished on Monday were empty. They had dug up craters to prevent the bulldozers from entering the area,” an official said.
But those who lost their homes said their houses were not “illegal”. “What is the justification for this demolition when we have registered our houses by all legal means and paid money to the government,” said Munni Devi, sitting outside her demolished home.
People alleged that the authorities did not give them even an hour’s notice to take out their belongings.
Though officials claimed that eviction notices were served to the residents, the villagers denied it. Sarla Devi, another woman whose house was razed, said: “In the eight years that I have lived here, I haven’t received a single notice. If the government says this is illegal, why do they charge us money and register the plots in our name. I have paid Rs 20,000 to the government to get my house registered.”
SP (Rural) Ashok Kumar said due formalities were completed by the GNA before the eviction drive. “There were minor stone-pelting incidents and a private builder’s office was burnt by the angry mob. No one was injured. Five persons have been detained for questioning, but no arrest has been made,” he said.