| Residents of Nepali Nagar protest against the demolition drive of the housing board on Friday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
For three days, commuters on the Ashiana-Digha link road and Rajeev Nagar-Polytechnic Junction stretch had to bear the impact of a protest initiated by residents of Nepali Nagar over demolition of boundary walls of several houses in the colony.
However, the commuters can now heave a sigh of relief as the protest against the demolition of walls of several houses on the western side of Ashiana-Digha Road was called off on Friday.
The protests sparked after a team of Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) allegedly razed boundary walls and stairs of a few under-construction houses on Tuesday. The protesters had blocked all entry points to Rajeev Nagar area and burnt tyres at various places to keep the vehicles at bay.
Commuters had a harrowing time during the course of the protest.
“Everyday, I come from my home at Danapur to my shop at Rajeev Nagar road number-16 in autorickshaw. However, since the roads were blocked from Wednesday, I had to walk around 3km from Rajeev Nagar drain junction to reach my shop,” said Dinesh Prasad.
Jaya Sharma, a homemaker, had trouble sending her daughter to school.
“My daughter’s playschool is at Patliputra. I stay at Rajeev Nagar-2. As protesters had blocked the railway crossing near Polytechnic Mor, her school van couldn’t enter our colony. Consequently, we had to walk over 2km to reach our place,” Sharma said.
The deadlock over the prevailing tension between the residents and administration was broken with favourable talks between the two sides on Friday. Several delegates or representatives of the protesters met Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar and managing director of BSHB Anupam Kumar Suman, among other senior officers of the district administration and the police on Friday afternoon.
Though Saravana was not available for a comment but a press communiqué in this regard stated: “Status quo should be maintained over the disputed Digha land till the proposed Digha Acquired Land Settlement rules and schemes come. None of the existing houses would be touched until the new rules come. Similarly, no new construction would be allowed till the new rules come. Those found making new constructions would be liable for punishment.”
The protesters had demanded to stop the demolitions, compensation for damaged portion of the houses and administrative action on the officers responsible for the demolition.
Resident of Chandravihar Colony located on the disputed land Neeraj Thakur, who was present in the meeting said: “The district magistrate has asked us to submit a written application at his office for demanding compensation against loss of property and action against the officers involved. He said he would look into their application and send it to the department concerned.”
The state urban development department has finalised the draft for the Digha Acquired Land Settlement rules and schemes. Urban development department minister Prem Kumar said: “We are in the final stages of bringing out the Digha Acquired Land Settlement rules and schemes. The rule would resolve all issues of the residents. Till then, I would appeal the people of Digha and Rajeev Nagar to maintain peace.”