| Cars parked in the open space in front of the hotel on Thursday. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
Once an activist, always an activist.
This appears to be the motto of Parveen Amanullah, who has refused to shed the role of an activist even after becoming a minister. On Thursday, she vowed to take forward her fight against the alleged encroachment of an open space in a housing society by don-turned JD(U) MLA Anant Singh.
The social welfare minister had on Tuesday night lodged a written complaint with Pataliputra Co-operative Housing Society against Singh for allegedly encroaching upon a vacant land in front of his hotel — Buddha Heritage. “I shall visit the spot tomorrow (Friday) at 10am. If I find that the space has not been cleared by then, I will again take up the issue,” Amanullah told The Telegraph on Thursday.
“I shall find out if the society has reacted following the complaint. I shall ask representatives of the society to accompany me during the visit,” she added.
Amanullah, who was an activist before becoming an MLA and subsequently a minister, refused to divulge the steps she might take to clear the encroachment. Before entering into politics, she was at forefront of the RTI movement as the convener of Bihar Right to Information Manch.
Pataliputra Co-operative Housing Society secretary A.K. Sinha said he has forwarded the minister’s complaint letter to the Mokama MLA and the society was awaiting his reply.
Anant, however, appeared nonchalant after the minister lodged the complaint. “I am developing this space into a park and have also approached JD(U) MLA Punam Devi and party MP Shivanand Tiwari for funds,” he said on Thursday.
The MLA claimed that he has so far not received any notice from the society. “I fail to understand the fuss. I have not encroached upon any space. If I receive any notice, I shall reply to it in accordance with the law. But let the notice come first,” he added.
Anant said it was obvious that he has to send a reply to the secretary of the housing society. “I am not outside it (the society). The minister is claiming that I have encroached upon the space for my own interest. Why would I do so? I have not even done any barricading as well. You tell me what is the meaning of encroachment? Encroachment means that I am not allowing anyone to use the space. Am I doing so?” he asked.
Amanullah had alleged that the barricaded part of the land was being used as a parking lot of the hotel.
The MLA, quite predictably, doesn’t agree. “If I barricade a space that has only one entrance, it can be called encroachment. But if a barricaded space has four entrances, then it cannot be called encroachment. I really do know how the minister defines encroachment. She must be having some personal grudges against me,” he said.
Patna district magistrate N. Saravana Kumar said: “The matter is at the society level and it has not yet reached me formally. I will look into the issue and take legal action if the issue reaches my office.”
A senior resident of Patliputra Colony said: “At present, a cottah in the area costs around Rs 70 lakh. The hotel (Buddha Heritage) has been constructed over a plot of 15 cottahs. Society rules state that no commercial facility can be set up in the area. But all rules have been violated. This particular hotel is not the only instance. Many people have violated the norms by setting up schools and shops.”
Sources said the hotel has been constructed for more than Rs 8 crore. Closed-circuit television cameras have been installed atop the hotel to monitor all movement in front of it.