Uttar Pradesh Real Estate Regulatory Authority (UP-Rera) officials on Thursday alerted Noida and Greater Noida authorities about the need to regulate spiralling illegal construction at Shahberi — a rural area beyond Noida Extension — consisting of several densely populated villages, namely Garhi, Behlolpur, Sarfabad, Shorkha and Gulabili, all of which have such illegal houses.
UP-Rera officials said unless restrictions were imposed on illegal concrete buildings coming up across Gautam Budh Nagar, they could become a major headache for urban planners in future. UP-Rera member Balwinder Kumar said expanding encroachments is a common problem in most areas and need to be controlled.
Shahberi — a 2km-wide swampy semi-urban area in Greater Noida — hit the headlines in 2018 when two buildings there collapsed, killing nine people. Primarily an agricultural village that had been notified by Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) in 2008, its land had initially been acquired under the urgency clause, but was later leased out to builders. Acquisition was stalled following a Supreme Court order in 2011. No fresh acquisition took place afterwards, but villagers who had received compensation did not return the money. Instead, they sold the land again to private builders. Left unchecked by authorities, houses without licensed plans soon started coming up.
GNIDA states Shahberi’s land is under legal stay from Allahabad high court and any construction there is illegal. “After the earlier Shahberi land acquisition was quashed by court, we reapplied for its acquisition. In the interim, there’s a stay on construction in the area, and if GNIDA detects any work, they are likely to be sealed and demolished,” said Narendra Bhooshan, CEO, GNIDA.
Yet, flats at these villages, which are strategically positioned right behind highrise residential complex, are selling well among people looking for affordable accommodation. Properties in the area are listed on websites, and range from Rs 2,000-2,500 per sq ft, ie., Rs 12-28 lakh per unit. “People are buying flats at Shahberi because it’s not too far from the city. People who work at Noida’s factories or smaller offices, often prefer buying flats in such areas than paying rent. The low pricing allows them to own a house,” said Shrawan Kumar, a broker.
Regulators continued to harp on the danger posed by these urban sprawls. “Dense, concrete jungles have come up in 5-6 villages of Noida and Greater Noida. It’s possible to map such encroachments using remote-sensing, so these should be brought under control. We’ve taken the matter up with the authorities, though the latter find it difficult to intervene as these places are predominantly villages. We’re ready to partner with the agencies to bring this rampant growth under control,” UP-Rera’s Balwinder Kumar said.
“There are over 80 villages in the region which are densely-populated and unsafe. Nothing has been done since the Shahberi tragedy, and if Noida experiences an earthquake, which is very likely considering we’re a seismic 4 zone, imagine the consequences,” said Atul Gupta, president of Architects Association of India (Noida chapter).
Gautam Buddh Nagar district magistrate B N Singh held GNIDA responsible for the mess in Shahberi and other such sprawls in the region. “The district administration has only 88 villages under it. The rest are all notified and duly regulated by Noida Authority and GNID. ”