New Delhi, Oct. 17: Jharkhand, already smarting over the Centre’s snub to its special status demand, now has a fresh twist to its 13-year-old house grouse.
For a year, the Union urban development ministry has been dragging its feet over allotting Jharkhand a plot at Connaught Place, the heart of New Delhi, for its official guesthouse.
Last year, a central committee responsible for allocating land owned by the ministry had approved a one-acre plot near Lady Hardinge Medical College for Jharkhand. Then, according to sources, the committee retracted its decision because a central government PSU was also eyeing the same plot.
“The land proposal was all set to be moved to the cabinet but some hurdles cropped up. The proposal got stuck after a PSU wanted the plot. A final decision is yet to be taken,” a source in the Union ministry told The Telegraph.
It’s a blow to state public works department officials. On being alerted by the resident commissioner, they had started preparing a detailed project report of an initiative whose very future now hangs in balance.
Since 2000, when it separated from Bihar, Jharkhand has been struggling to get space for an official house in upscale central Delhi where other state houses are situated.
The state was allotted a small plot in Vasant Vihar in south Delhi where a three-storey building was constructed with 20 rooms. It proved too small for the state’s Delhi-loving dignitaries and legislators.
Over time, officials at the modest Jharkhand Bhavan got used to negotiating with counterparts at Rajasthan, Gujarat and Meghalaya bhavans to put up VIP guests, depending on room availability.
Luckily, chief minister Hemant Soren has a better option. He prefers his father’s MP flat in North Avenue whenever he visits the capital, primarily due to the area’s proximity with south and north blocks where ministries are located.
There’s another thorn that rankles. After bifurcation, Jharkhand had demanded one of Bihar’s two official residences, both in Chanakyapuri. But Big Brother refused to part with either Bihar Bhavan or Bihar Nivas.
The Centre asked Bihar to hand over Bihar Bhavan to Jharkhand, citing precedents shown by gracious Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, who had given one building each to newbie Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh respectively.
But Bihar stayed unmoved. The case, which moved to Supreme Court in 2004, is unresolved.