Ruckus in Jharkhand assembly over low land rates for Adani

Ranchi, March 10 (IANS) The Jharkhand assembly on Thursday witnessed disruptions over alleged lowering of land rate in Santhal Pargana division to help the Adani group.

There are six districts under the division.

Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) legislator Stephen Marandi brought in an adjournment motion over the issue in the state legislature.

Speaking on the issue, Marandi said: “The state government, through an order dated 28/10/2015, lowered the rate of the Santhal Pargana and the land rate has been reduced up to 80 percent. First time in the history of India, land rate has been reduced up to 80 percent. The land rate has been reduced to help the Adani group.”

The opposition members became agitated after Speaker Dinesh Oraon rejected the adjournment motion and some of them trooped near the Speaker’s podium during Question Hour, demanding a roll-back of the decision reducing the land rate.

The speaker adjourned the house briefly when the agitated members refused to resume their seats.

Later, talking to reporters, Leader of opposition and JMM leader Hemant Soren said: “The land rate has been reduced to help the private companies. We will continue our agitation till the new rates are rolled back.”

The opposition members assembled at the assembly gate after the house was adjourned and shouted slogans saying “Stop acquiring land of the poor farmers and tribal people”, “Institute CBI probe to investigate state government and Adani group land deal of Rs.5,000 crore”.

Talking to reporters, Pradeep Yadav, a Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajantrik (JVM-P) legislator, said: “A Rs.1,000 crore deal has been done to give benefit up to Rs.5,000 crore to the Adani group. Under the new rate, the price for one acre has been reduced to Rs.13 lakh from Rs.1.25 crore. The Railways is giving Rs.58 lakh per acre to people for the land it acquires and the National Highways Authority of India is giving Rs.75 lakh per acre. Now, the state government will acquire the land for Rs.13 lakh to help the Adani group.”

When the house re-assembled at 11.45 a.m., Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das announced constituting a committee headed by the chief secretary to look into the issue. The committee will consult farmers and decide on the issue.

“The rate was fixed based on the report of the finance secretary. The report was prepared by adopting the scientific method. The rate is postponed and a committee headed by the chief secretary will speak to farmers and submit its report within 15 days,” the chief minister informed the house.

Dissatisfied with the chief minister’s reply, the JMM and Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) [JVM-P] boycotted the house.

“An independent body should be constituted to look into the issue. That the committee headed by the chief secretary will submit a fair report is doubtful. We are boycotting the assembly,” said JVM-P leader Pradeep Yadav.

After the chief minister’s reply, Hemant Soren said: “The land should not be acquired … rather land should be taken on lease so that the ownership of the land owners continues.”

On Tuesday, JVM-P had brought an adjournment motion on the same issue. Last month, the Adani group signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government to set up a 1,600 MW power plant in Santhal Pargana at an investment of Rs.15,000 crore.

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