Ghaziabad (U.P.): Over 500 farmers on Wednesday approached the district authorities seeking return of land sold to Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Power, but expressed inability to repay the compensation in one-go, a government official said.

The farmers’ claim follows the High Court order that quashed a portion of the State government’s 2004 notification for purchase of land for Reliance Power’s Dadri power plant.

“As many as 566 farmers have applied today... we are yet to calculate the quantum of land claimed by them, but it could be around 600-700 acres... the process will continue till January 18,” Additional District Magistrate (Finance) Sarvajeet Ram told PTI over phone.

The farmers wanted to repay the compensation amount in instalments, saying they had spent the money, Mr. Ram said, adding that there was no specific direction in the December 4 Allahabad High Court order about instalments and a view would have to be taken by the administration.

Reliance Power has since filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court, appealing against the High Court order. A Reliance Power spokesperson said the matter is before Supreme Court and is sub-judice and declined to comment.

The Anil Ambani group company had acquired 2,200 acres of land for the Rs 10,000 crore project.

Appearing for the farmers, advocate Ashish Pratap Singh claimed that he filed the objections on behalf of 1,500 farmers before the Additional District Magistrate Sarvajeet Ram and requested him for time for return of the compensation amount.

Objections invited

As per the court decision, the administration had invited objections vide an advertisement on December 19, last year and have followed up all other necessary formalities, Mr. Ram said.

Farmers began an agitation seeking compensation for the land on par with amount offered by the State government for land in Noida. The High Court partially quashed the land acquisition on the grounds that the government side-stepped a formality of inviting objections from land owners. Although Reliance Power acquired the land, it had not started work on the 7,450 MW project. -- PTI