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One big ticket project and Bihar’s ‘cow belt’ goes loco with a huge investment surge

Hundreds of locals of Chakla, Ganeshsthan and hamlets like Tuniyahi, owe their new found prosperity to the new Madhepura electric locomotive factory at Chakla, which started production on October 11 this year.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2017 20:04 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
Madhepura loco factory,Chakla unit,Investment surge
The Madhepura electric locomotive factory at Chakla in north Bihar. (HT photo)

For years, Lal Kunj Yadav of Chakla Sripur, on the outskirts of Madhepura town, was unemployed. He could barely make a living, managing a small grocery store. But, for last one year, he has seen brisk business at his shop, which now earns him Rs 2000 per day.

“I had never dreamed, I would see such a day,” he says, dreamily.

Yadav is among hundreds of locals of Chakla, Ganeshsthan and hamlets like Tuniyahi, who owe their new found prosperity to the new Madhepura electric locomotive factory at Chakla , which started production on October 11 this year.

The project was initiated a decade ago, in 2007-08, when Lalu Prasad was the Union railway minister.

The locomotive factory, a joint venture of Alstom and Indian Railways, has generated much hope among the locals due to the huge investment being pumped into the project and land acquisitions still going on to set up ancillary units.

“We have got proposals from various companies, including a Japanese firm keen on investing Rs 100 crore for a unit. This area is going to be another Bokaro , a decade down the line,” said Mohammed Sohail, district magistrate, Madhepura.

Evidently, land prices in the area have sky rocketed. Companies keen on putting up small industrial units are offering Rs 15 lakh per kattha of land (around 1360 square feet) in the area close to the locomotive factory. A decade ago, it would have cost no more than Rs 50,000.

The total investment in the factory is estimated at Rs 26,000 crore, with Alstom getting a contract to produce 800 engines of 120 horse power each, over a period of time- a first of its kind production facility in the country.

The economic progress is discernible in this backward region, with the factory coming up. One can notice small kiosks for electrical equipment, mobile and other small shops mushrooming on the stretch from Madhepura town to Chakla, where villagers have even started renting out rooms to labourers working at the unit. A total of 304 acres of land has already been acquired.

“We earn more now. The area was long known for floods but now there is industrial progress. It is good thing,” said, Mohammed Irshad, a local resident of Chakla, who has opened an electrical equipment shop. Selling small fans and battery operated lights to hundreds of labourers and employees working in the locomotive factory, he has even managed a new home.

However, there are still some complaints from locals who claim they have not yet received the entire amount of compensation against land acquired from them owing to problems over land deeds and other technical glitches.

“The factory is okay. But we are yet to be paid for our land. Officials keep on asking for more documents,” claimed Tarni Prasad Yadav, who has got Rs 31 lakh so far against 100 decimal (1 acre) of land ‘sold’ to the factory.

Madan Das, who had given 21 katha of land, claimed he had got the money for 18 katha of land and rest amount for was still pending.

The Madhepura DM said the administration had already processed land deeds for 304 acres of land and compensation process was almost over, except in some cases wherein there was dispute on dividing the compensation money among family members.

“We have settled all formalities of land acquisition and handed over the land deeds to the railways,” he said, exuding confidence that there would be huge generation of jobs for locals when the plant goes full stream.

First Published: Nov 11, 2017 20:01 IST