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Govt unlocks food park land

Patna, Sept. 5: The proposed mega food park, which was tied in knots over land acquisition in Bhagalpur, is now expected to shift to Banka.

The government has allotted the Calcutta-based Keventer Agro Limited 100 acres of land in Banka district, around 270km southeast of Patna, for setting up the project.

The decision comes barely a month after the company decided to withdraw from the project after being stuck for almost six years because the government wasn’t ready to facilitate the acquisition of land.

Keventer Agro chairman M.K Jalan confirmed to The Telegraph today that the land had been provided to the company.

“Land has been provided to us at Banka by the state government. The foundation stone laying ceremony of the project will be done during Dussehra next month. The construction work will start immediately and we hope that the project will be ready within 11 months’ time,” Jalan said over phone from Calcutta.

He added that the government had assured the company they were serious about the project and that there wouldn’t be any more problems.

“We want to set up the food park in the state and are hoping for cooperation. The project cost, however, is expected to increase by around 15 to 20 per cent owing to the land cost and compensation,” Jalan said.

Industries minister Renu Kumari also confirmed that the government had given a proposal to Keventer Agro to take over 100 acres in Banka.

“Yes, the state government has given a proposal that they are ready to provide 100 acres of land to the Calcutta-based group. There was a meeting between the industry department officials and the Keventer Agro chairman in which the government placed the proposal for giving them the land in Banka immediately. A letter of agreement is expected from the company after which the formalities will be completed and the land will be formally handed over,” she told The Telegraph.

The land in Banka is located in the Bausi sub-division of the district.

The project was caught in a tangle over land for over five years. In 2008, the Keventer Group signed a land allotment agreement with Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada) for 80 acres at Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur. Keventer paid Biada Rs 5 crore (30 per cent of the land price). The remaining amount was to have been paid after getting possession of the land.

“But till 2013, Keventer did not get possession of the land owing to acquisition problems,” a source told The Telegraph.

Frustrated, Keventer Agro, which had announced in 2011 that the food park would be developed in partnership with the Future Group at a total investment of Rs 200 crore, withdrew from the project last month.

A section of the industry is still sceptical whether the Banka land would be free of problems. “Can the government be sure that the landowners there will not create problems yet again,” an industrialist, who didn’t wish to be named, asked.


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