In 1974, the Bihar State Housing Board (BSHB) decided to acquire 1,024.52 acres of land in present Rajeev Nagar in Patna for the proposed Digha Housing Colony. As per the land acquisition law of that time, the farmers were to get INR 2,200 per 1,360 square feet, but many farmers' lands were acquired without paying them due compensation. The farmers who did not receive the compensation protested against the government's decision to unreasonably leave them out of the compensation scheme and refused to give up their land. Meanwhile, BSHB had deposited INR 17.42 crore in the account of the district collector of Patna towards the acquisition of land. Of the 1,024.52 acres of land that was to be developed by the BSHB, around 600 acres were sold by the erstwhile owners or farmers to other parties, making it challenging for the Board to execute the project. This also created a mess over the ownership of land among the original landowners, allotees and occupants. To resolve the dispute, the Bihar government enacted a law on April 20, 2010. The state Cabinet subsequently approved the Digha Land Acquisition Settlement Rules and Scheme, 2014, fixing the compensation rate, but the landowners were not convinced and maintained that their land had not been acquired by the government. Chandramunshi Singh, one of the founding members of the Digha Krishi Bhumi Awas Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, formed to protest against the Settlement Rules, is quoted in a news report as saying: The Settlement Rules aim at regularising the occupancy of people who have already constructed houses but enforces acquisition of land from landowners who did not sell all these years. We do not want to give up our land to the housing board even on payment of ex gratia. The government's land acquisition process in the disputed area was never completed so we still own the land. Moreover, those who had already constructed houses on the disputed plot were unwilling to pay the prevailing minimum value rate to the government. In 2017, the Bihar chief secretary instructed the BSHB to construct a boundary wall around 400 acres of the disputed land. They faced violent protests by the locals. In November that year, members of the Akhil Bharatiya Baad Sukhad Pidit Sangarsh Morcha, an organisation protesting the acquisition of land in Digha, agitated for almost a month, demanding adequate compensation for the farmers. According to a survey report of 1994, there are 330 applicants for compensation. As per the Settlement Rules, people who have built their houses on 600 acres of land on the eastern side of Ashiana-Digha Road would be regularised after payment of a settlement charge, while the remaining 400 acres on the western side of the road will be acquired by the housing board for its own projects. The farmers and residents living on this side have opposed the proposal. In January 2019, violence erupted between miscreants and the administration during an anti-encroachment drive, in which a dozen cops were injured. The drive was conducted by the Patna district administration in association with Patna Police to hand over six acres of land to the Board. The land was to be acquired to set up offices of Sashastra Seema Bal and the Central Board of Secondary Education.
Government Bodies Involved in the Conflict:
Bihar State Housing Board, Patna Police, Patna Municipal Corporation
Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:
Digha Krishi Bhumi-Awas Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Rajiv Nagar Vyavsaik Nyas, Akhil Bharatiya Baad Sukhad Pidit Sangarsh Morcha
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Around 20 persons were injured when an irate mob clashed with police during an anti-encroachment drive at Ghurdaur Road in Rajeev Nagar locality in Patna in September 2017. In January 2019, violence erupted between miscreants and the district administration during an anti-encroachment drive in which a dozen cops were injured.
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