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Give us our maps or see you in court

- Hemant throws legal zinger at parent Bihar

Ranchi, June 6: Chief minister Hemant Soren has threatened to file a case against Bihar if it failed to hand over maps of over 32,000 revenue villages, bringing up the thorny issue of messy distribution of assets and liabilities between the parent and new states.

“If Bihar is not giving revenue maps, then file a writ in Jharkhand High Court,” an official release said quoting the chief minister as saying at a review of the revenue and land reforms department yesterday.

When Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar over 13 years and seven months ago, the revenue villages fell in the new state’s territory, but the maps stayed in the old.

Bihar Reorganisation Act (2000), section 42, empowers Jharkhand to take original records and maps. But successive reminders have made no dent on Bihar’s determined amnesia.

Those in the know say Jharkhand’s land maps are gathering dust at Gulzarbag Printing Press, Patna.

Asked how this hits their work, revenue and land reforms department principal secretary J.B. Tubid said: “We face extreme difficulty in day-to-day revenue administration.”

Without maps, Jharkhand can’t modernise land records under the Centre’s National Land Record Modernisation Programme, where states get funds to digitise land records and survey or survey afresh any area using GPS, aerial photography and satellite imagery.

Lack of maps also gives the land mafia a free run.

“In my opinion, due to petty political reasons, Bihar government hasn’t given us the maps since 2000. So far, our department has not initiated any legal procedure. We have requested Bihar government to give us the maps which are literally of no use to them, but of immense importance to us,” Tubid added.

When contacted, Bihar’s secretary in the revenue and land reforms department Hukum Singh Meena refused to comment on the contentious issue. “Anything related to distribution of assets and liabilities is looked after by the state finance department and Union home ministry,” he said.

Another high-ranking Bihar official admitted it was a long-pending issue. “But many similar issues of assets and liability distribution between Bihar and Jharkhand are pending,” he argued.

“These matters are the lookout of the finance departments of both the states and the Union home ministry. We do not know about Jharkhand government’s latest stand as we have not received any official or written communication,” he added.

In September 2012, then land reforms and revenue minister Mathura Prasad Mahto of the Arjun Munda-led coalition had accused Bihar government of not handing over 82,000 land maps of 32,615 villages in Jharkhand even though the new state was carved out in 2000.

At the state revenue ministers’ conference titled “Modernisation of Land Records”, Mahto, in the presence of then Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh, said Jharkhand had taken up the issue with Bihar several times, but to no avail.


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