Govt mulls uniform land rate

Ranchi, Nov. 27: The state government is considering offering uniform rates to land owners of all four mouzas of Khunti who have agreed to part with their land for the proposed Knowledge City project.

According to land acquisition norms, the government pays varying rates to different mouzas, but raiyats owning over 350 acres comprising the four areas ' Idri, Rewa, Chiruhatu and Birhu ' in Khunti are demanding uniform rates.

"The process of land acquisition for Knowledge City has already begun. But the land acquisition act suggests payments to raiyats whose land is acquired based on prevalent rates fixed by the government for a particular mouza. The neighbouring Bihar government has taken a 'one project, one rate' policy decision and now it is up to the government in Jharkhand to take a final decision," said a senior bureaucrat who attended at a meeting chaired by chief secretary S.K. Choudhary at Project Building today.

Although a final decision could not be taken during today's meeting, sources maintained the government had little choice but opt for a policy decision, with land acquisition being a thorny issue and residents of Khunti demanding equal compensation.

The Knowledge City, touted as an upcoming academic and software hub, will be aimed at setting up world-class educational and research institutes, besides facilities for IT companies.

The project is being monitored by the Greater Ranchi Development Agency Limited (GRDAL), while Mumbai-based consultant major Darashaw has been roped in as development adviser.

The process for acquisition of land for the project has already set off with the government issuing a notification to the effect in August. However, sources said the Khunti district administration would need to restart the process if the state government took a policy decision on the lines of Bihar to satisfy the demands of the landholders.

The changes will effect government purchase of land and not private investors.

GRDAL managing director Awinash Kumar said that efforts were on at the government level to speed up land acquisition for the project, adding they would soon arrive at an amicable solution.

The state government has identified 400 acres for the project in the district neighbouring the capital. A majority of the land belongs to raiyats (private landowners).

Finance secretary Sukhdev Singh, GRDAL managing director Kumar and senior officials of the revenue and land reforms department also attended today's meeting.

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