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Steel firm smells land deal
- Monnet makes open offer to Chas villagers for 850 acres

Bokaro, Sept. 15: A steel firm that signed an MoU in 2003 when Arjun Munda was chief minister today claimed it had convinced most residents of a village to part with nearly 850 acres for setting up a 1.5 MTPA steel mill in Chas, 22km from Bokaro.

Vice-president of Monnet Ispat & Energy Ltd Murari Sharan and two other company officials, A.B. Pati and Rakesh Ashthana, were accompanied by Chas block circle officer Anil Singh during their visit to Kumhari village this morning where hundreds of local residents had been waiting for them.

At Kumhari, a village of 10,000, Sharan read out the company’s proposal and also made an open offer at a public meeting that began after the villagers performed a puja.

Monnet was ready to give Rs 4,050 per decimal of land and promised to undertake several welfare programmes centred around health, sanitation, education, apart from building roads and training local youths to make them employable.

Monnet, which signed an MoU on February 5, 2003, has identified 1,300 acres for its project. Of this, 219.45 acres is state-owned while 126.32 acres belong to the forest department. The remaining land is owned privately by villagers of Kumhari and Dumrada in Chas block that is well connected by rail and road.

Monnet’s senior vice-president Amitabh S. Mudgal had informed the district administration that the company had identified 850 acres at Kumhari and 450 acres at Dumrada village.

Jeevan Datta, who owns 80 acres to make him the largest individual owner of land at Kumhari, said most villagers had agreed to sell their land to Monnet, but wanted it to raise the price by another Rs 2,000.

“By and large most land owners have agreed to give up their plots as this will bring prosperity to the entire region,” said Datta while fellow villagers, Ram Mahto, Chandi Mahto and Mohammad Akbar, nodded in agreement.

He said apart from increasing the rate, some villagers also wanted Monnet to provide them a fixed remuneration for five years until its plant started production.

Sharan said he was satisfied with today’s meeting and confirmed that by and large all farmers, except “a handful of those who were playing broker”, had agreed to sell their land.

The company has distributed copies of the agreement forms and hopes to seal the individual deals as soon as possible. “The registration of land will start within two weeks and once it’s done, the establishment of the factory will start,” Sharan added.

At a meeting held in July, Bokaro DC Nitin Kulkarni told officials of Monnet that once they inked a few sale agreements, the administration would get into the picture and help them speed up the acquisition and transfer process of government and forest land.

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