The Telegraph
Sunday , September 8 , 2013
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Cloud over food park land

Patna, Sept. 7: If Bhagalpur hasn’t, will Banka? Give up land, that is.

After promising to untangle the knotty land issue that had tied up Keventer Agro’s mega food park project, the government now says it’s not sure whether the entire 100 acres it has offered the group in Banka has been acquired or not.

The alternative offer came earlier this week after the state failed to acquire land for the project in Bhagalpur’s Kahalgaon even after six years.

Sources said the situation in Banka could go the Bihta way where landowners had forced the construction work on the IIT-Patna campus to stop.

“The state government has so far paid 80 per cent compensation to farmers and landowners for 55 acres acquired in Banka’s Bounsi sub-division for the 100-acre project. In such a situation, how can it guarantee that the landowners won’t start a protest like the one in Bihta now that the Centre has passed the Land Acquisition Act?” a city-based industrialist told The Telegraph.

Industries minister Renu Kumari couldn’t give a convincing reply to the same question.

“My department officials say that the acquisition is over. Maybe some part of the land is yet to be acquired,” she said.

But the minister wasn’t ready to draw a parallel between the land tussle in Bihta and the situation in Banka. “I don’t think any such thing would happen in Banka. Whatever is happening in Bihta is wrong and unjustified on the part of the farmers there. Banka will not face any issues,” she said.

Banka district magistrate B. Kartikey too didn’t have concrete answers. “No official communication on the project being shifted from Bhagalpur to Banka has reached us. Moreover, I have joined recently, so I cannot say much. The records need to be checked,” he said.

But Banka deputy commissioner for land and revenue Brajesh Kumar admitted there were a few problems.

Kuchh problem aa gaya tha. Poora nahi ho saka hai (Some problems had cropped up. It remains incomplete),” the officer said, before adding that he did not have much information.

Sources pointed out that the land has not been physically acquired.

Infrastructure Development Authority (IDA), a sister concern of Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority, has been given the responsibility of acquiring the 100 acres.

IDA secretary B. Ojha said the authority released Rs 50 crore to the Banka administration to give compensation to the farmers in March this year. “Eighty per cent compensation was paid to each landowner. Thereafter, the administration did not contact us. The IDA hasn’t got physical possession of the land,” he said.