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Homes razed in shilp gram

Dumka, Dec. 18: The Deoghar district administration today demolished seven houses that were allegedly built on land which had been acquired by the state for a tourism complex in Nandan Pahar locality.

According to the sub-divisional officer (civil) Uma Shankar Singh, the occupants of the houses had been served notices way back in 2004-05 and subsequently on many occasions based on a high court standing order allowing the government to evict illegal encroachments.

But, he added, the refusal of the families to vacate the plot prompted the administration to take a tough stand.

“The houses were built on a five-acre area acquired for the shilp gram (artistes’ village), a state government establishment against which suitable compensation was paid to the raiyats (landowners) about a decade ago,” Singh told The Telegraph.

The panic-stricken house owners and their family members pleaded before the authorities, but the administration pulled down the houses within four to five hours.

The occupants of the demolished houses claimed they had purchased the plots on the basis of dan patras (donation letters to new occupants) issued by the raiyats in 2002-03, before the land was claimed by the government for the shilp gram.

“Land was acquired for the shilp gram by the district administration illegally without considering our stand,” said Subodh Prasad Singh, whose house was demolished today.

Sources said the role of the previous landowners, who sold their plots to raiyats even after earning compensation from the government in violation of the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act, was questionable.

Under the SPT Act, ownership of local land is not transferrable. However, residential colonies have mushroomed over the years in various districts of Santhal Pargana in land which is referred to as jamabandi (non-transferrable), thanks to the practice of dan patras.

“We may have violated the SPT Act, but we must not be discriminated by the administration, which has been indifferent to thousands of houses built on jamabandi land,” said Arti Devi, whose house was also pulled down today.

The Deoghar district administration had acquired the land in 2003-04 to set up buildings for the shilp gram across two acres.

According to the sources, nine more buildings have been spotted in the list of encroachers that will be demolished.