Farmers threaten to disrupt Indian Grand Prix

Indian Grand Prix
The new Indian GP track has been built on the outskirts of Delhi

Indian farmers have threatened to disrupt the country's first Formula 1 race in a row over the way their land was acquired for the new track.

The Buddh International Circuit has been built on farmland just outside Delhi for the race on 30 October.

The farmers want better compensation and job opportunities as they say their livelihoods have been compromised.

Farmers' leader Virender Dhada said: "We are not against the race but we feel we have been short-changed."

Dhada added in an interview with the AFP news agency: "We will stage protest marches and sit-ins next to the track starting 23 October to ensure our voice is heard.

"We are only demanding what is our right. The authorities have been turning a deaf ear to our legitimate demands.

"If they are willing to talk to us even now, we will stop the planned agitation."

The organisers of the race, Jaypee Sports, have dismissed the threat.

"This whole thing is a big joke," said an executive from the company who did not want to be named.

"People should not be taking these threats seriously.

"There is so much riding on the race for the company and the country, do you think we will allow a handful of farmers to spoil it?"

There have been concerns about the progress of work at the $350m (£226m) circuit in Greater Noida and the event's security following a bomb explosion in the country's capital, New Delhi, but the organisers are confident they are fully prepared.

"We have spent $400m (£259m) on the race and we will spend a few million more if needed to have adequate security in place," added the executive.

"We will do whatever it takes to have a wonderful event."

Narain Karthikeyan is the only Indian driver confirmed for the race, returning to HRT for a one-off appearance.

At the Italian Grand Prix, Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes said he would like to see the team's reserve driver Karun Chandhok step into the cockpit for his home event, but this has yet to be confirmed.

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