When proof of land acquisition goes missing in Madhubani, Bihar
‘My father had passed away by 1972 and I was the guardian of my family. If they paid us the money, they must have my signature, but they don’t’
Barring a map with the signature of the then District Magistrate, the state government is unable to produce any evidence that land straddling five panchayats in Madhubani (Bihar) was acquired in 1972 and compensation paid. Challenged to produce the proof, officials claim that the records were set ablaze by a mob in 2012.
The stalemate has held up the widening of National Highway 104, a 179.95 km long stretch connecting Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Jaynagar and Narahiya. The gazette notification containing the plot numbers had to be revised twice and republished since commercial and residential areas had been shown as agricultural land. It was while this process and protests were going on during 2015-16 that officials first claimed that the land had actually been acquired in 1972.
“My father had passed away by 1972 and I was the guardian of my family. If they paid us the money, they must have my signature, but they don’t,” bristles Jugal Kishore Jha. He suspects that the bureaucracy is confusing the payment made in the mid-sixties for digging the sides of the roads as compensation for land.
“Does only one office keep records of land acquisition? Surely, the National Highway division, the revenue office, and the district administration should all have copies of such record,” asks Mithilesh Kumar Jha. Another villager, on condition of anonymity, adds, “Even when they were modifying the list, we had to pay bribes for getting our commercial land listed as commercial and not agricultural.”
When National Herald contacted Md. Attiquddin, the local Land Acquisition Officer, to enquire if there was any proof that the land was acquired, he replied, “certainly; it is with the Executive Engineer, Sitamadhi”. Prabha Shankar Kokil, Executive Engineer, Sitamadhi, said, “The land acquisition department must have the proof as they had acquired the land. We just have a map supplied to us by them which has the DM’s signatures, so we believed that the acquisition procedure must have been completed”.
“We have received a letter from Delhi asking why villagers are not being presented with proof of acquisition. Villagers certainly should be provided with proof of compensation paid.”
Hundreds of villagers now face the prospect of their houses being demolished and losing their land ‘without’ receiving any compensation. “How many of us can afford to construct a new house,” asks a despondent villager.
Around 1972, a revisional survey had indeed taken place, villagers confirm. But the government did not apparently mark the land owned by the state in the survey while farmers and other tenants have been paying rent regularly.
Were they then paying rent to the government for land that belonged to the government all along? Why did the government receive rent in the first place? No answers are available yet.
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- National Highways Authority of India
- national highway
- Minister of Road Transport & Highways