Naveen Jaiswal (fifth from left) leads the protest rally at Kute in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
The state government’s bid to establish a core capital area on 1,904 acres at Kute in Ranchi has met with stiff resistance from local villagers.
The villagers, majority of whom will be affected by the project, staged protests on Wednesday as work to build an Assembly building, a part of the core capital, was launched with an earthmover creating an approach road to the proposed site.
In wake of the vociferous protests, the district administration assured the agitators that no construction would take place without their consent.
Nagri BDO Rohit Kumar, who was deputed at the site to maintain law and order, pacified the angry villagers.
“Whatever grievance you have, give it in writing. I will convey it to my seniors. Nothing will be done in your locality without taking you people in confidence,” he said.
Kumar explained to the villagers that as of now, no construction work was being planned. “On January 21, the foundation for the Assembly building will be laid. Our exercise is for that function,” he said.
The proposed core capital area carved out of HEC township would include all government establishments — secretariats, Assembly secretariat, houses for ministers, government officials, among others.
Wednesday’s agitation started around 1.45pm when villagers assembled near a government school and took out a procession to the proposed site. They even raised slogans against the government.
“Jaan denge zamin nahi denge (I will sacrifice my life but not give away my land),” said farmer Chamra Oroan (40), who owned a five acre plot in the area.
Vishwanath Baitha (52), who owns a seven-acre plot that was likely to become a part of the core capital, echoed Oraon. “Jamin chal jato to ka khabou (what I will eat if my land is taken away),” he said.
Hatia MLA Naveen Jaiswal expressed solidarity with the villagers.
“How can the government start the project when it had clearly said in the Assembly on December 20 that it would wait for a committee constituted under the chairmanship of the additional collector to present a report on the HEC land transfer issue,” he asked.
HEC land has always been a bone of contention. For, the PSU has just used 2,400 acres of the 7,800 acres it had acquired in the 1960s. Land acquired for a particular purpose cannot be used for another purpose and has to be returned to its original owner.