Villagers of Konra in Barhi have started series of protests to get their land back from proposed Barhi Mega Industrial Growth Center (BMIGC) in Hazaribagh district of Jharkhand. The proposed industrial park is a part of AmritsarKolkata industrial corridor.
The project was conceptualized in 1998 to boost the state's image as a major industrial hub. Ranchi Industrial Area Development Authority (RIADA) acquired nearly 750 acres of land. 500 acres was acquired from village residents. The land acquisition included 221.81 acres raiyyat land and 303.50 acres of gair majurua land.
Vinod Vishwakarma, an activist from Barhi has filed a public interest litigation, with the support from affected landowners, in the Jharkhand High Court seeking the return of all acquired land. Vishwakarma points out that a major portion of the acquired land is actually agricultural land. He said, When the land for Mega Industrial Growth Center was acquired by RIADA, villagers were promised that the families who have given their land for the project will get a job.
Since not a single industrial unit has been set up under the growth center, the families who gave their agricultural land are facing severe livelihood crisis. Village residents say their agricultural land was their source of livelihood. Now, when the agricultural land has been acquired by the government and no industry has been set up leading to create jobs, their families are facing hunger like situation.
Activists also underline the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act amendment of 1993. The amendment clearly states that if the industry or establishment is not set up on the acquired land within five years then the land should be returned to the raiyyats, Vinod adds.
The government has appointed IL&FS infrastructure development corporation as a consultant to attract investors. The consultant has also issued series of advertisements to invite expression of interest for the project from all over the country. However, not a single industry has been set up. Consultants have marketed the project site showing availability of adequate water, transport linkage, and availability of cheap labor.
The state government, in order to instill a sense of security among prospective investors, offered 101 acres of land to set up CoBRA battalion on the projects land. CoBRA battalion camp has been already set up. RIADA is now erecting boundary wall around the acquired land.
The effort to contact Saughata Maitra, assistant vice president of IL&FS infrastructure development corporation yielded no results. Ram Nagina Sahu, surveyor of RIADA said that a series of spot verification of the project has been done with IL&FS. He informed that project is a part of AmritsarKolkata industrial corridor conceptualized by the union government. The role of RIADA was to provide land infrastructure. Since the matter is subjudice, government officials are waiting for the court decision. The cost of the entire land acquisition and infrastructure is around Rs 350 crores.