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Indian GP won't be derailed by farmers' objections

2 August 2011

Promoters and constructors alike have vowed that another protest against the building of the Buddh International Circuit due to host the inaugural Indian Grand Prix later this year will not cause problems on an already tight timescale.

The venue has been hit by numerous delays since building work got underway last year, but organisers are determined that there will be no repeat of the farce that surrounded the first-ever Korean GP, where the circuit was still being completed even as F1 teams prepared to take to the track. India failed to cover itself in glory ahead of last year's Commonwealth Games, but the infrastructure at the Buddh International site in Greater Noida is in the hands of privateer firm Jaypee, rather than government-appointed contractors, and the company insists that the latest dispute, involving farmers forced to give up land in the surrounding area, will not have a major impact.

The focus of the protest comes from those landowners bordering the Yamuna Expressway being constructed to expedite the ingress and egress of fans and personnel at the new circuit. According to the Times of India newspaper, the farmers intend to stall both projects if their demands for greater compensation are not met, despite agreements having been signed at the start of construction.

"At this point of time, the compensation hike issue cannot be solved as it is not under the jurisdiction of the authority," YEIDA CEO Pandhari Yadav pointed out, confirming that the land was initially acquired with the mutual consent of farmers, "We have been regularly visiting the villages and all genuine demands of farmers have been accepted."

A spokesman for the Jaypee Group also confirmed that all land required for development of the circuit and its surrounding infrastructure had been acquired at mutually agreed rates of compensation, and insisted that the latest protest would not affect the construction process.

"At the end of the day, it is about the prestige of the country," the spokesman explained, "We did not even beef up the security around the project even during the Bhatta-Parsaul clash. The Yamuna Expressway Authority will soon find a solution to the dispute.

"A dedicated team is constructing the track, [and] a large labour force is working day and night so that there are no hindrances in its completion. There are around 6000 workers and over 250 engineers working round-the-clock to ensure early completion of the project."

The Indian GP has been beset by delays and rumours of delays since it was confirmed, with religious objections and construction delays among the problems reported, but influential Indian motorsport figures, such as Vicky Chandhok and Vijay Mallya insist that there is no problem with the programme.

"We are keeping a close tab on developments in the farmers' agitation. We will settle their grievances, but no person would be allowed to stop under-construction projects, including the F1 racing track." district magistrate Hirdesh Kumar stressed.


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