The Nitish Kumar government has linked its “reluctance” to hand over 82,000 land maps of 32,615 villages to Jharkhand to non-resolution of pending issues related to the bifurcation of undivided Bihar 12 years ago.
Though Bihar government officials are tight-lipped about the exact reasons behind its stand, they said strategies were being worked out.
“We have received a request from the Jharkhand government (for handing over the land maps). The proposal is with the government for consideration,” C. Ashok Vardhan, the principal secretary of revenue and land reforms department, told The Telegraph.
He, however, refused to divulge details, not even the deadline, if any, fixed by the Bihar government for handing over the maps to the neighbouring state.
In the absence of land maps, Jharkhand cannot modernise its land records under the Centre’s National Land Record Modernisation Programme. As part of the scheme, states get funds to digitise land records and survey or resurvey any area using global positioning system (GPS), aerial photography and satellite imagery.
However, sources said several issues needed to be dealt with the land map issue. Bihar’s home and finance department looks after all issues stemming out of non-completion of division of assets and liabilities between Bihar and Jharkhand.
Some of the 18-20 issues pending are payment of around Rs 950 crore against pension by the Jharkhand government, the state’s (Jharkhand’s) claim on either Bihar Niwas and Bihar Bhavan, cadre division and full and final division of assets and liabilities, the sources said.
The sources added that the the clauses and the provisions of the bifurcation of the erstwhile undivided Bihar had mandated Bihar and Jharkhand to pay two-thirds and one-third for pension, respectively.
Asked about the map issue, a source said: “We have given them printouts of all land maps sought. Several deputy commissioners of Jharkhand have requested for maps and we have supplied them the printouts of digitised maps which are as good as the original ones. The Jharkhand government is more interested in getting the original land maps of 32,615 villages. However, the issue cannot be resolved in isolation.”
On the Centre’s pat for Bihar modernising its land records and Jharkhand’s slow progress, the source added: “Since they (Jharkhand officials) did not have any sound reason for slow progress of the land record modernisation programme, they passed the buck on the Bihar government, accusing us of not co-operating in giving them the land maps.”
Jharkhand land reforms and revenue minister Mathura Prasad Mahto, while taking part in the state revenue ministers’ conference, “Modernisation of Land Records”, that Jharkhand had taken up the issue (of land maps) with Bihar many times but the efforts were futile despite several reminders. Mahto has requested the department of land resources under the rural development ministry to pressurise Bihar for an early solution to the issue.