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Two months to decide on food park fate

The Centre has agreed to give the state government two-months’ time to decide on the fate of the ambitious food park to be set up by Keventer Agro.

The state government has to now hand over land to the Calcutta-based company to save itself from any discomfiture.

Arun Kumar Singh, the director of the food processing directorate under the industries department, said: “After an extension was given to start the construction work, the state government has fast tracked the process of handing over the land to the firm.”

Keventer Agro chairperson M.K. Jalan confirmed the extension.

“An extension has been given. However, out of the 100 acres to be made available to us by the state, 55 have been fully acquired. We have had talks with the state government and they have assured us to provide physical possession of the 55 acres soon. Once we get the possession, we will immediately start the construction work. The state government has also assured us that the acquisition process of the remaining portion of the land is on and would be provided to us soon,” Jalan said.

A senior officer with the department confirmed that after the Kahalgaon (Bhagalpur) fiasco, the state has offered Keventer Agro 100 acres in Bausa sub-division in Banka.

“It was reported earlier that the company has seen the land and has agreed to construct a food park in Banka. In a meeting with the ministry of agriculture and food processing on September 27, the state government had updated the Centre about it. The state also requested the Centre to grant some more time so that a foolproof process could be finalised. The Centre has agreed to our request and given us two months to roll out things in concrete,” the officer said.

He added that the first step of the government was to hand over the land to the company.

“The land is under Infrastructure Development Authority’s possession. It is a sister concern of the Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority (Biada). A letter has been sent to the authority to immediately transfer the land to Biada so that the latter could lease it out to Keventer Agro. Once Keventer gets the land, the state’s responsibility is over. It would be upon Keventer to start and finish the project,” he said.

Sources in the department said after the extension was given, the hurry was obvious.

“The extension is rather a deadline. If the project doesn’t start in the next two months, the Centre will cancel the food park allotment. The Rs 150-crore project has been languishing in the state since years now because of the perennial land problem. If the state is not able to provide land to Keventer Agro now, it will be a major embarrassment for the government. Already the government couldn’t give the physical possession of the land to Keventer that was initially marked in Kahalgaon. The state is now hurrying up to hand over the land to Keventer. If the land is given and Keventer fails to start the work, the blame will fall on the company and not on the state government,” another officer said.