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Black marketing skyrockets land prices in border areas

Land prices in these areas match the rates prevailing in metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi, reports Ramashankar.

india Updated: Oct 16, 2006 14:27 IST

Mumbai has its rival in Bihar, when it comes to sky-rocketing prices of land in areas adjoining Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bangladesh borders.

Land prices in these areas match the rates prevailing in metropolitan cities like Mumbai and Delhi.

But despite the astonishing prices, there are buyers eager to shell out crores for a few katthas of prime land.

If you want to buy a piece of land in Raxaul, the gateway to Nepal, chances are you will never get it.

And if you manage to get a small plot, you may have to pay an astronomical sum - up to Rs 1 crore for one kattha.

Even the government has fixed the value of land at Rs 50 lakh per katta at Raxaul situated on the Indo-Nepal border in East Champaran district.

It means that if you want to purchase a plot of land measuring one kattha on the main road there, you will have to fork out more than Rs 5 lakh as stamp duty and court fee.

Sudden spurt in land prices, particularly in the last decade, is attributed to easy flow of international currency in these bordering areas. "Black marketing and constant flow of money, courtesy ISI, which needs safe houses, has skyrocketed the prices of the real estate," said Raman Kumar of Raxaul, adding that it all began during the fodder scam days, with scamsters going in for benami property.

Similarly, the prices of land at Supaul, Araria, Kishanganj, Purnia and Katihar have gone up in the past 10-15 years. "The entire belt is dominated by a particular community. Some Bangladeshis have also purchased land in these areas," said an official of the SSB, who was earlier posted at Supaul.

Locals have sold their land to the settlers as they offer much more than any local buyer. Asked about the source of funds, a senior police officer said on condition of anonymity that money from Gulf countries procured through NGOs in the name of minority welfare is being used to fund the acquisitions.

Another source of fund is the smuggling of contraband goods. While the smuggling of electronic goods has gone down, drugs and arms are the new favourites of the smugglers. The deployment of Sashashtra Seema Bal (SSB) on the two international borders has had limited impact on the activity of smugglers.

"We have been making catches, but due to the very nature of our force and its responsibilities we get at only the foot soldiers, not the big players who control the carriers from distant places," said Pratap Singh Chandrawat, the deputy commandant of the SSB’s 13th Battalion. The battalion guards the border between Raxaul in East Champaran and Bairgainina in Sitamarhi districts.

The political instability in Nepal has created a sense of insecurity among the Indian businessmen in that country. They too are purchasing land in the bordering areas to set up a second home where they may shift in case things get too hot in that country.

First Published: Oct 11, 2006 23:42 IST