Neemka, which has a population of 5,600, is located nearly 40km from Pari Chowk in Greater Noida. In the last five years, the village has made some small, but significant, progress. The pond is cleaner than before, the village has got an interlocked footpath, a 200-kilolitre tank and 360 household toilets. An NGO has been roped in for a digital literacy programme in its primary school. However, the village lacks cleanliness and solid waste management. There aren’t adequate hospital facilities, and a proper drainage system is much needed.
Another major worry for the locals is the fact that the UP government recently notified the village as “urban”. They now fear that their land could be acquired for Phase 2 of the Jewar airport project. Neemka is located close to six villages — Ranhera, Parohi, Rohi, Kishorpur, Dayanatpur and Banwaribas — that have been earmarked for land acquisition for the airport.
Arvind Kumar, the village pradhan, said some development has taken place. “Mahesh Sharma had adopted this village and 60 solar lights were set up. This has helped local people. In another project, the interlocking of footpaths was completed. Now the roads do not get damaged during rainy season,” he said.
The authorities have also tried to address water issues. The UP Jal Nigam has developed a 200-kilolitre water tank in the village. Some people have got piped water supply too. “This (piped water facility) was inaugurated by Mahesh Sharma on September 21, 2018. However, due to some technical reason it is not operational right now,” Kumar said. The village pond was earlier filled with hyacinth and posed a serious health problem. But now it has been cleaned and fenced with barbed wires.
A significant move has been the digital literacy programme run by BIMTECH Foundation in Neemka primary school. The NGO has offered 10 laptops and a teacher for this programme.
Asha Sharma, a junior teacher, said there are 118 students in primary school and 60 students in middle school. “They (the NGO) run a six-month digital literacy programme. There are three separate batches for boys and girls from Monday to Saturday. It is slowly bringing about change,” she said.
Rina, a Class VIII student who has been getting acquainted with computers, said: “I have two brothers who are into tailoring. My parents are labourers and they can’t afford a computer or laptop. I am happy to learn computer skills here. I have learnt to use Notepad, MS Word and Paintbrush. I am learning to make PPT (PowerPoint Presentation).” Students are also getting familiarised with emails and messaging.
Dr Rishi Tiwari, CEO, BIMTECH Foundation, said the NGO also provides training in life skills and basic English to make students self-dependent.
Sharma, who is the minister of state for tourism and culture (independent charge), told TOI that the face of Neemka has changed with development. “We have cleaned the pond, installed solar lights, biogas plant, (started) digital literacy programme and piped drinking water. We are also providing skills development training for the local youth in association with BIMTECH. Several students have got employment in this programme,” he said.
The village, however, still has some ground to cover. Sewage water sometimes mixes with the pond, making its water dirty. The drains get choked with filth and stagnant water, and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes and insects. The villagers have urged authorities to put a proper drainage system in place. Dheeraj Kumar, a resident, said, “We get around 15-18 hours of power supply. But sometimes the solar lights fluctuate and at other times they are lit during the day,” he said.
According to Sharma, a Wifi spot has been launched in the village. The locals, however, seem to be unaware of it. The village also lacks a hospital, and has only one auxiliary nurse midwifery centre. The residents want a stadium and a guest house too. The village pradhan said he used his development fund for a dharamshala to accommodate around 10 guests. “There is no hotel or guest house in the village. So guests from other villages stay here,” Arvind Kumar said.
He said after the village’s notification as “urban” in May 2018, the government stopped funds earmarked for it. “They have not released money for the gram sabha’s development… We worry the land would be acquired for the second phase of Jewar airport,” he said.
Balram Singh, additional district magistrate (land acquisition), Gautam Budh Nagar, said even though the government had notified Neemka and 15 other villages as urban, it is “not directly related to Jewar airport project”.
Since the model code of conduct came into effect on Sunday, the foundation programme of the airport project has been put on hold.