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Green axe for MLA homes

Ranchi, Oct. 2: A horticulture research programme could get the axe and make way for a residential complex for legislators if the Madhu Koda government has its way.

About 4,000 mango trees of 190 varieties, the largest collection of litchi (50 varieties) in the country and over 100 types of experiments (including 16 on litchi) on fruits and vegetables are going on at Horticulture & Agro-forestry Research Programme (HARP) in Palandu, on the outskirts of Ranchi.

The programme is being carried out over 585 acres of land and has been in HARP’s possession for the past 28 years. The programme is under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

Now the Jharkhand government wants to take back 285 acres for building a housing complex for MLAs.

A senior scientist at HARP asked: “Does the state need posh residential complexes at highly subsidised rates for MLAs' Or, does it need a research station of ICAR that has been doing extremely well in boosting the state’s horticulture and agriculture for three decades'”

Top revenue and land reforms department officials acknowledged that they have sent the file pertaining to getting back 285 acres of land presently in HARP’s possession to the offices of the chief secretary and the chief minister for clearance.

“We had received a letter of protest from A.K. Upadhayay, the additional secretary in Union agriculture ministry and also the ICAR secretary, in this regard. It has been attached with the file sent to the chief secretary,” the official said.

Asked why the government needed to get back the land, sources said about 85 acres would be handed over to Vidhayak Griha Nirman Samiti, a co-operative for providing houses to MLAs. Besides, stationing a battalion of central security forces is also on the cards.

“A written communiqué is yet to reach us or the ICAR headquarters in Delhi. But we have communicated the matter to our headquarters to pre-empt any such move,” said Shivendra Kumar, chief scientist of HARP.

The land was given to HARP in 1979 under an agreement between the then Bihar government and ICAR. But the state government never issued an official notification transferring the land in the name of HARP.

“Mutation (change of ownership title) was never done in our favour. But we are relying on the agreement of 1979 as we are using the plot for the purpose it was agreed upon,” Kumar said.

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