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Rights panel demands report on Digha land order
- Over 200 members of Awas Bachao Samiti knock on SHRC door, allege violation of fundamental rights

Patna, July 1: Bihar State Human Rights Commission has taken cognisance of a complaint filed by around 200 individuals against settlement of land under Digha Acquired Land Settlement Act, 2010, and ordered the managing director (MD) of Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) to submit a detailed report in the matter within four weeks time.

The order came after complainant Bipendra Jha, along with around 200 members of “Awas Bachao Samiti”, Nepali Nagar, filed a petition at the state human rights commission. The petition stated that BSHB, while settling lands earlier acquired by it under the provisions of Digha Acquired Land Settlement Act, 2010, is committing discrimination against the petitioners.

Further, it alleged that the discrimination is violating the fundamental rights of the petitioners guaranteed by the Constitution, also identified as “human rights” as defined under Section 2 (d) of The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

“Human rights and only human rights, distinct of other rights are to be protected at any cost. Even law, if found violating human rights, shall be considered redundant and not be allowed to supersede human rights, as life is to be protected before law. Henceforth, the commission shall decide further course of action only after the receipt of ordered report from the MD of state housing board,” said Justice Rajendra Prasad, member of Bihar State Human Rights Commission.

This petition is a new turn in the long-pending dispute in the allotment of widespread land across Ashiana-Digha Road near Rajiv Nagar police station. According to sources, the petitioner filed the petition in apprehension of unfavourable settlement of around 400 acres falling under sector 1, 2, 5, 8 and 10, wherein they presently reside.

An area of 1,024.52 acres was acquired in 1973 by the state government at Digha within Patna Municipal Corporation limits for handing over to BSHB. The state housing board had also deposited Rs 17.42 crore to the district collector of Patna towards the collection of land.

However, several landowners challenged some of the proceedings of the acquisitions and the matter went up to the Supreme Court, which directed in 1990 that plots should be allotted among the 12,000 applicants through lottery. Of this, around 8,000 applicants were allotted plots but they were never given actual possession.

Meanwhile, Of 1024.52 acres of land, which was to be developed by the housing board, around 600 acres were sold by the erstwhile owners from whom the government had acquired the land to other parties making it quite impossible for the board to execute the project.

Later, the Digha Acquired Land Settlement Act, 2010 was passed by the legislative Assembly and Council on April 20, 2010, and published in the gazette publication but it is still to be enacted through a government notification.

This Act is aimed at categorisation of land and through it unauthorised occupants are to be regularised by way of final settlement of plots after giving respective compensation amount.

Moreover, Section VI of the act regarding settlement of land related to certain areas states that final settlement should be confined to an area of about 600 acres comprising sector 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11 and 12 wherein the unlawful constructed area for residential and commercial purposes are spread over the maximum area of sector.

Further, Section VII of the act states the Bihar State Housing Board shall be entitled to take possession of vacant land comprising an area of about 400 acres situated in sectors 1, 2, 5, 8 and 10.

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