September 21, 2018

Digha land tussle erupts afresh

Patna: A group of landowners on Thursday demanded that the government de-notify the existing Digha Acquired Land Settlement Act, 2010, which was brought in by the state government to end the 40-year-long dispute over 1024.56 acres of land.

The urban development department had notified the Act in November 2013, but now the landowners are gearing up for a fresh agitation and have demanded acquisition as per the central land acquisition law.

Shrinath Singh, working president of the Digha Bhumi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, said that since the land acquisition process has not been completed, “we consider the law lapsed and request the government to de-notify it. They should come up with settlement efforts as per the law enacted by the central government.”

According to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, if the land has not been possessed and compensation not been paid up to five years after the notification is issued, the acquisition will be nullified.

In March this year, the state government refused to declare the disputed land as free land and stressed that several landowners had already taken compensation.

Urban development minister Suresh Sharma, in response to a question asked by JDU MLA Shyam Rajak in the Assembly, had ruled out the possibility of restoring the vacant land to the owners.

He also said that the government already paid over Rs 17 crore for compensation and there was no scope for declaring the land as free land again.

The landowners, however, said on Thursday that land prices have shot up manifold and the prices offered to them was per the circle rate of 1973 – Rs 2200 per cottah – instead of the current price (Rs 50 lakh per cottah).

Digha MLA Sanjiv Chaurasia told reporters on Thursday that the landowners’ association would submit a fresh memorandum to the urban development minister to inform him about their grievances.

The land was acquired in 1974 by the state housing board to build government houses for sale to residents. The landowners moved court and fought all the way till the apex court – losing in all of them. There was a delay in payment of compensation as the board handed over the money to the district magistrate in 1983.

Shrinath Singh said that the landowners have filed a case in Patna High Court as per the new law.

“The matter is before the court and we hope that it will be resolved soon,” he added.

Courtesy: The Telegraph

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