The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Review hits land prices

Ranchi, April 17: Land prices continue to nosedive throughout the Kanke-Sukurhuttu-Pithoria-Chandwey region, earmarked for the Greater Ranchi project, a month after an abrupt change of guard in the state.

The Arjun Munda government’s stated plan to re-examine the project appears to have triggered the price plunge. Even the Cabinet’s iteration that all decisions taken by the Babulal Marandi government would be implemented within a definite period has failed to rekindle demand.

Till a month ago, the buyers were flocking to the earmarked region to earn a fast buck. Their enthusiasm was sparked by the former chief minister’s frequent trips to the Sukurhuttu region, capped by his South-East Asian sojourn in December.

The flurry of activity had prompted the Marandi regime to ban transfer of land ownership at the Greater Ranchi site. Yet, land prices had soared in a few days from zero demand to well over Rs 8,000 a decimel, particularly for the more prominent sites.

Villagers said rates had soared in areas far from the proposed trunk routes for the site as the land mafia and ordinary residents descended there in a bid to be part of the action.

The formation of the Greater Ranchi Authority and the interest of foreign companies and governments in the state fuelled the demand further, pushing up prices.

The situation, however, changed overnight with the induction of Munda as the chief minister. Government sources told The Telegraph that land prices, which till a month ago had crossed Rs 8,000 a decimel (1 decimel = a hundredth of an acre), have fallen below Rs 2,000 a decimel now.

The fall has been drastic in the prominent stretches of the site, particularly along the proposed road and rail routes, sources said.

Even interior villages have been affected with the rates for land dipping to well below Rs 500 a decimel.

For the land mafia, the fall in demand has come as a boon, sources said. They are now lapping up both tribal and non-tribal land at low rates.

The land mafia has managed to evade the Marandi government’s ban by resorting to the “power of attorney route”. They are grabbing hundreds of acres, despite the stringent conditions imposed by the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, sources said.

Over the past six months, the land mafia has been luring the tribals to part with their hundreds of acres for a lumpsum payment of Rs 10,000-20,000, sources said. In return for the payment, the tribals grant the mafia power of attorney and, consequently, the right to dispose of the land as they deem fit.

Though the tenancy Act prohibits sale of tribal land to outsiders, the land mafia, armed with power of attorney, has been trying to sell the land to people and entrepreneurs from outside the state.

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