The Telegraph
Thursday , November 14 , 2013
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Land still eludes Keventer

The state has learnt no lesson when it comes to land and industry, not even the hard way.

Over a month after the Union ministry of food processing industries gave the state government two months for construction work on the Rs 150 crore Keventer Mega Food Park Project to kick off, industry sources said the state government was yet to hand over 100 acres of land freshly earmarked for it at Bausa subdivision in Banka district.

And, with the clock ticking away, the future of the mega food park project, which has already caused enough embarrassment to the state government, lies in the dark. The project, being developed by Calcutta-based Keventer Agro, withdrew from Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district in August, after the state government could not provide them land due to protests from farmers there.

“In September, the state earmarked 100 acres of land for Keventer in Banka district. Then, the Centre, which had earlier called the project a ‘joke’, gave the state two months time in which to start construction work, failing which it would cancel the centrally-funded project.

“The state government had been saying since September that the plot in Banka district had no problems and would soon be handed over to the company. But, there has been no progress and the two-month deadline is round the corner,” an official said.

Keventer Agro chairman M.K. Jalan had earlier told The Telegraph they would get land very soon and Bhoomi Pujan would take place right after Dussehra. But he now refrained from saying much while hinting at “options” before them. He told The Telegraph: “We have more options which are under consideration. We intend to come down to Patna next week and discuss the same with the department. A clear picture would emerge by November 20.” The Centre’s two-month deadline ends on November 27.

Arun Kumar Singh, the director, Directorate of Food Processing, was unaware of the project’s current status. “I am in Chhattisgarh since past fortnight on election duty. I have no idea on current status of project,” he told The Telegraph. Earlier, officials at the Infrastructure Development Authority (IDA), a sister concern of BIADA (Bihar Infrastructure Area Development Authority), had said the land was with them and in the process of being transferred to BIADA.

But Suman Kumar, the director (administration) of IDA, said they still did not possess the land. “IDA still has not got land from the authorities. Land acquisition was still on and the district land acquisition officer would forward the same to us once it is complete. Only then can we forward it to BIADA or give it to Keventer Agro,” the official said.

Earlier, authorities had said that of the 100 acres, 55 acres had been acquired. Sources said the project was set to see a cancellation. “Even after the Kahalgaon debacle, the state has not woken up,” an industrialist told The Telegraph.

August 14: Keventer pulls out of Kahalgaon in Bhagalpur district over land

September 10: State earmarks 100 acres for Keventer at Bausa subdivision of Banka district

September 27: Centre sets two-month deadline for construction work to kick off