Scam detected in border road project in Bihar’s Araria, 150 accounts of land brokers freezed
The district magistrate of Araria in northeast Bihar said 40 acres of agricultural land, identified for acquisition, were bought by brokers and shown as residential plots on paper to extract more compensation from the government.Updated: Aug 04, 2017, 18:12 IST
The district magistrate of Araria in northeast Bihar has ordered the freezing of 150 bank accounts of about 15 brokers following detection of irregularities in acquisition of land for a road project along India-Nepal border.
The accounts are with various banks at Forbesganj, 293 km northeast of state capital Patna.
“We have detected serious irregularities and all those involved in it will be brought to book,” Araria district magistrate Himanshu Sharma said. “The district administration is looking into papers of the land acquired for the border road, being constructed jointly by Union and state governments,” he added.
The bank accounts of erring land brokers had been freezed and more than Rs 5 crore had been recovered from them, he added.
Sharma did not rule out the connivance of the Forbesganj registry office employees in the alleged irregularities. “We have so far detected that 40 acres of agricultural land, identified for acquisition, were bought by brokers and shown as residential plots on paper to extract more compensation from the government,” Sharma said.
The 557-km two-lane strategic border road from Gobarhia village on Bihar-UP border to Galgalia on Bihar–West Bengal border is being constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 4,000 crore, to be equally shared by the Centre and the Bihar government. The cost of land acquisition and maintenance of the road is to be borne by the state government.
Sharma said the wrongdoings came to the fore when a villager lodged a complaint with the circle officer, alleging that his land had been sold on paper without his consent.
“I was told that my land was being acquired for the construction of the strategic border road. When I went to the Forbesganj registry office to enquire about compensation, I was shocked to learn that my land had already been sold,” Parmanand Mehta, a farmer of Sonapur village in the district, said.
Mehta’s is not the isolated case. Mohammad Mikail, Mohammad Israel and Bibi Nebula Khatun of Chakorva village also have similar story to narrate.
A senior officer of Araria said if a proper inquiry was conducted, such irregularities could also be found in other districts from where the border road would pass. “The scam may run into over Rs100 crore in Araria, where 104-km stretch of the border road is being constructed,” the officer, who did not wished to be quoted, said.
Apart from Araria, the ambitious road project is spread over East Champaran (74.29 km), West Champaran (110.35 km), Sitamarhi (89.50 km), Madhubani (40.15 km), Supaul (40.99 km) and Kishanganj (98.05 km) districts.
All the 191 outposts of Sashatra Seema Bal (SSB) in Bihar will be linked with the road, construction of which began in 2012.