Bihar’s notorious land sharks have been found to have grabbed 175 acres of government land that was earmarked for being transferred to the Mahatma Gandhi Central University, Bihar (MGCUB), for the construction of its campus here.
The discovery was made when the East Champaran district authorities were carrying out a physical verification of about 200 acres of the government land, ahead of its transfer to MGCUB. This block of land, including the ‘grabbed’ 175 acres, was part of a total of 301 acres of land that has to be provided to the university for its Motihari campus.
The remaining 100 acres of so of land to be acquired for the project is private.
Now that the transfer of even the government land to the university has been delayed till such time as the district authorities are able to sort out the matter, the seven year wait for the central university to have its own building has been extended further..
Originally known as the Central University of Bihar (CUB), the university had started functioning from a temporary campus in Patna, in 2009, in the wake of the passage of the Central Universities Act, 2009. However, the location for its permanent campus could not be sorted out.
This was because the then HRD minister Kapil Sibal wanted the CUB to come up in Gaya in south Bihar whereas chief minister Nitish Kumar preferred it to be set up at Motihari in East Champaran district of north Bihar. This led to the decision by the centre, to set up two central universities, one in Gaya and one in Motihari.
“The formal nod for setting up the CUB, later renamed MGCUB, at Motihari came in 2012, after a prolonged agitation by the people and politicians of north Bihar”, a .teacher recalled. But land acquisition and transfer woes come in the way of the construction work of the university building from being started.
Authorities now say the175 acres of grabbed land, located across Furasatpur, Bairia and Bankat localities near Motihari is ‘Gairmajarua’ (vested in the state of Bihar). Occupants of the ‘grabbed’ land claim its ownership through what the authorities claim was illegal ‘jamabandi’ (settlement).
“The jamabandi was created at the local circle office on the basis of fabricated documents furnished by land sharks who wanted to claim compensation from the government for acquiring its own land for the MGCUB”, said an official.
Officials engaged in land acquisition were stunned, when, at the time of spot verification, they found a numbers of stakeholders had emerged for what they knew to be gairmajurwa land. “Now, we have started the process of annulling the illegal jamabandi”, said Motihari circle officer Basant Kumar Sinha.
Additional collector Arshad Ali said it had been found during the preliminary investigation that a revenue functionary had ‘overlooked’ the rules to create the jamabandi in private names.
Officials said during a survey conducted in 1914-1918, the nature of land in the localities in which the ‘grabbed’ land was located, had been identified as ‘Mali Gairmajarua’.
“We have identified the circle officer and the revenue functionary during whose tenure most of the (illegal) jamabandi had been created. While the CO has been transferred out of Motihari, the revenue functionary retired on January 31, this year”, said an official.
He said a three member team had been formed in February to inquire against the erring revenue functionary. “But nothing came out of the inquiry”, he stated.