The Jharkhand government was forced to put on hold the implementation of new rates notified for land acquisition in Santhal Parganas for power and other industrial projects, after the opposition raised a hullabaloo in the assembly on Thursday accusing the government of facilitating land acquisition for Adani Group at throwaway prices.
The state government, during an adjournment motion moved by senior JMM legislator Stephan Marandi, announced the setting up of a chief secretary-headed committee of secretaries to come up with new land acquisition rates within a fortnight. Other members of the committee are industry secretary UP Singh, revenue secretary KK Soan and finance secretary Amit Khare.
The Raghubar Das government came under the opposition fire after it allegedly curtailed land rates in Godda district to facilitate Adani Group of companies which has applied for 2,500 acres of land to set up a power plant there.
Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P) leader Pradeep Yadav rocked the House on March 8 by quoting from official records that the government had drastically cut the rates notified in 2012 with effect from 10-11-2015 for two years.
Incidentally, then Godda deputy commissioner had in his report had recommended four times enhanced compensation to those parting with their land to facilitate industries in the region.
The DC had recommended increased rate of Rs 1.05 crore per acre from Rs 26.25 lakh in Mahgama block. In Meharma block, he recommended that the rate be hiked from Rs 21.08 lakh to Rs 84.32 lakh, in Pathgama from Rs 32.32 lakh to Rs 1.29 crore, in Poraiyyahat from Rs 21.17 lakh to Rs 84.68 lakh, in Thakurgangati from Rs 32.57 lakh to Rs 1.30 crore, in Boarijor from Rs 38.76 lakh to Rs 1.55 crore, and in Sundarpahari from Rs 22.26 lakh to Rs 89.04 lakh.
As per the revised rates amended for two years with effect from November 10, 2015, the government fixed a flat rate of Rs 3.25 lakh per acre for acquiring non-saleable land (prohibited under Santhal Parganmas Tenancy Act, 1948) for development projects.
Thursday’s development came after the adjournment of the House for 20 minutes at 11.25 am, when the Chair refused to entertain the adjournment motion moved by JMM’s Stephen Marandi and Amit Mahto over the issue.
When the Assembly resumed at 11.45 am, the chief minister announced holding in abeyance the operation of amended rates for land acquisition process. The opposition, however, was cynical of the committee and wanted an independent commission to go for rate determination.
Leader of the opposition Hemant Soren said, “What will the displaced do with compensatory amount when they cannot buy land elsewhere in Santhal Parganas as sale/purchase of land is prohibited in region under Santhal Praganas Tenancy Act, 1948.”
“The government should ban acquisition through law and instead should come up with a rule for leasing of land as in the case of government land so that right of tenant continues perpetually over the land and his interests are protected,” Soren added.
State Congress president Sukhdeo Bhagat and JVM-P’s Pradeep Yadav agreed with Soren’s proposition.
Apart from Adanis, several private and multinational players are planning huge investment in the power sector considering state’s rich coal reserves and other resources.