DIGHA OF DISPUTES

Urbanisation of rural areas abutting the city, unavailability of basic civic services and a solution to the long-pending land dispute issues are likely to be the key agenda to address in the Digha Assembly constituency.

By Piyush Kumar Tripathi
  • Published 1.10.15
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Urbanisation of rural areas abutting the city, unavailability of basic civic services and a solution to the long-pending land dispute issues are likely to be the key agenda to address in the Digha Assembly constituency.

Digha has six panchayats in spite of being an urban constituency located in the heart of the city.

It came into existence as an Assembly segment in 2008 after implementation of the Delimitation Commission of India recommendations. Panchayats apart, the constituency has 21 wards of Patna Municipal Corporation (PMC) as well.

At present, the constituency faces lack of basic civic amenities, including drinking water, drainage and clean street among others. Amenities apart, the dispute over people settled on 1024 acres in Rajiv Nagar has not been resolved over the past 40 years.

"Though Digha is an urban constituency but it has a sizeable number of semi-urban and rural voters as well. People living in the panchayat areas face a number of issues, including lack of drinking water, drainage and waterlogging among others. Besides, the solution to the dispute over 1024.52 acres of land of Bihar State Housing Board in the Rajiv Nagar-Digha area is also be a key agenda in Digha," said Sanjay Kumar Singh, councillor from ward No. 1 in Digha.

ÍSLAND OF NEGLECT IN SAGA OF DEVELOPMENT

Panchayat pangs

Digha is the state's largest constituency having 400 booths with around 4 lakh voters. Its expanse in the north starts from Digha police station on the Ganga bank to parts of Anisabad and Phulwarisharif in the south. In the east, it stretches from Mainpura Mauja and goes to canal near Saguna Mor in the west.

The six panchayats covered in Digha constituency are Nakta Diara, Badalpura, Sabazpura, Digha, Kurji and Mainpura. As a result of lack of basic urban services, residents of these panchayats are faced with a number of issues such as waterlogging, open drains, lack of drinking water and public toilets among others.

In late 2014, Patna High Court ordered inclusion of these panchayats under the PMC jurisdiction but its compliance is still pending.

Colony chaos

The 56-year-old Patliputra Housing Colony, with more than 300 houses owned by high-profile people, including politicians, judges and bureaucrats, is also faced with a number of civic issues, including waterlogging, because of the fact that it is neither a part of neighbouring Kurji or Mainpura panchayat nor is it covered under the PMC jurisdiction.

All civic matters related to the society are solely looked after by its cooperative society. This has, however, resulted in various civic issues in the neighbourhood, including poor waste management, fogging and streetlight maintenance, among others.

Land locked

The state government had acquired plots across Ashiana-Digha Road near the existing Rajiv Nagar police station from farmers in 1974 at the rate of around Rs 2,200 per cottah. Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) had deposited Rs 17.42 crore to the district collector of Patna towards the acquisition of land.

However, of 1024.52 acres of land, which was to be developed by the BSHB, around 600 acres of land were sold by the erstwhile owners or farmers to other parties making it quite impossible for the board to execute the project. This also created a mess over ownership of the land between the original landowners, allotees and occupants.

The state government came up with the Digha Land Acquisition Settlement Act in 2012 and the Digha Land Acquisition Settlement Rules and Scheme in 2014 but only a section of local people continue to abide by such policies.

Vote voice

Traditionally a BJP bastion, Digha at present is represented by Poonam Devi, a rebel MLA from the JDU, who sided with former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi. In the 2010 Assembly elections, Poonam defeated LJP's Satya Nand Sharma by a margin of 60,462 votes.

Poonam would however not contest the election this time as the NDA has fielded Sanjeev Chaurasia, son of senior BJP leader Ganga Prasad. Chaurasia is pitted against JDU spokesperson Rajeev Ranjan Prasad.