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Interim Report of the Fact Finding Team of Citizens Forum, Patna on the Land Grab in Mansi, Khagaria

Written By Gopal Krishna on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 | 4:57 AM



Interim Report of the Fact Finding Team of Citizens Forum, Patna on the Land Grab in Mansi, Khagaria 


July 2013


Fact Finding Team of Citizens Forum, Patna


Interim Report of the Fact Finding team of Citizens Forum, Patna on the Land Grab in Mansi, Khagaria
After a meeting of concerned citizens on June 25, 2013 at St Xaviers School, Gandhi Maidan, Patna on the issue of irregularities in the land acquisition process in Mansi, Khagaria, a Fact Finding Team was constituted to undertake a visit of the area and examine the situation on the ground. Following which a nine member Fact Finding Team visited Mansi, Khagaria 174 km east of Patna on July 1, 2013 to ascertain facts about the complaints of illegalities, atrocities, fake cases and gang rape in the matter of land acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The team learnt that the process of land acquisition was initiated in 1986. The process lapsed in 1988 under Section 11 A of the Act.
The team members comprised of political activists, social activists and journalists. The members were Nand Kishor Singh, Nripendra Krishna Mahto, Arun Kumar Singh, Bal Govind Singh, Parth Sarkar, Mithilesh, Rupesh, Indradev Rai and Gopal Krishna. The team took testimonies from the aggrieved villagers, visited the proposed site of Pristine Mega Food Park Private Limited and interacted with the local journalists and the District Collector to gather facts at the local school. The team visited the site to take the version of the company in question but no company official was present. The team sat with farmers and listened to their present and future concerns. The team heard the grievance of Gayatri Devi, member of Panchayat Samiti who was brutally assaulted by the goons of the company in the presence of officials from the district administration. Even the UpSarpanch, Jaijairam Yadav was assaulted. Those who were assaulted included Usha Devi, Visakha Devi, Sumitra Devi, Bindeshwari Yadav. The teamk learn that the collusion of district administration is evident from the fact that it did not lodge the FIR in this case. They were forced to move to CJM Court. An inquiry is underway in the matter.   
The villagers informed the team that the DIG of the area had convened a meeting with the villagers and the company people on May 29, 2013.  The DIG contended that if 80% of the farmers agree to give up their land, the land will have to be given up for the company. He had fixed June 4, 2013 to ascertain whether or not farmers were in support of giving up the land. When he learnt that more than 80 % of the villagers are opposed to giving up their land he cancelled the scheduled meeting. This was done after a signed list of villagers opposed to handing over of their land to Pristine was submitted to the DIG, Munger with its copy sent to the District Collector, Khagaria.
The team learnt about a case of gang rape by the workers of the company on June 16, 2013. The police made the victim wait till 6 PM that day. Her medical checkup was done at 11 PM. Her clothes were taken and sealed but was sent for check up only on June 23, 2013. The accused from Ekania and Chak Hussani villages have not been arrested so far. Her medical report has not been dealt with as per procedural requirement.
A bizarre case of planting two girls with questionable organizational affiliation amidst protesting farmers at the behest of the company and lodging of police case by them against the villagers has come to light. The girls who have filed the case had falsely claimed to be working with Nav Akansha Foundation.  
The team interacted with the local journalists. The reporters who were present with the team and the villagers in the premises of Khutia Kanya Madhya Vidyalaya included Jitendra Kumar Bablu of Hindustan, Sikandar Azad Bakht of Early Morning, Arun Kumar Verma of Rashtriya Sahara and Pappu Kumar Suman of Dainik Jagran. The local reporter of Prabhat Khabar, Ravi Kumar informed in a telephonic conversation that the company is citing some order of the Patna High Court to go ahead with its work.          
Background of the Land Acquisition Process
Villagers informed the team that there was about 600 acre land in 1954. Since 1960s, their land is being acquired in the name of various necessities. In 1960, about 100 acre land was acquired for the rehabilitation of Akania village which suffered displacement due to erosion by Ganga river, during 1962-64 60, about 20 acres of their land was acquired for the rehabilitation of Matihani village and in 1978, about 20-25 acres were acquired for power grid. Railways acquired about 50 acres of land during 1977-80. For National Highway some 30-40 acres of land was acquired. Their land was acquired even for gas pipeline.  This trend of farmers’ losing their land continues. 
In the current case of acquisition of some 206 acres, the villagers stated that they were misled by the then MLA from Indian National Congress, Satyadev Singh who got their signatures assuring them that he will file a case on their behalf in the Patna High Court. Instead he submitted those signatures to the BIADA. This is part of villagers’ narrative that needs to be cross checked.  It all started in 1986 when land acquisition for 206 acres of Mansi, Gaura Shakti and Khutiya mauza commenced for Growth Centre by Bihar Industrial Area Authority (BIADA). 
At a later stage after the lapse of two years, K. K. Pathak, the then director of BIADA and Mayank Barbade, District Collector of Khagaria ordered to nullify the process of land acquisition after getting the complaints of irregularities in the process of acquisition and farmers’ protest. Mayank Barbade’s tenure was frpm
Villagers narrated how convener of Upjau Bhoomi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, Kamal Kishore Yadav and his associates like Guddu Yadav, Shankar Yadav, Jaijai Ram Yadav besides 10 more people have been implicated in the fake cases at the behest of the company. The Samiti is bitterly opposed to land acquisition. Villagers like Jitendra Kumar, Subhash Joshi, Usha Devi, Anita Devi narrated the attempts to forcibly acquire the land. Villagers alleged collusion of Renu Kushwaha, the Industry Minister, Bihar Government, local MLA, Poonam Devi and the owners of Pristine Logistics & Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd (PLIPL) to grab their land.

     
Background of the Company

Pristine Logistics & Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd (PLIPL) has been established by three entrepreneurs namely Rajnish Kumar, former civil servant from Indian Railway Traffic Services (IRTS), Amit Kumar, ex-IRTS officer and Sanjay Mawar. The company’s motto is “Passion on Move”.[1]
Rajnish Kumar claims that he took “the company, from Zero to an annual turnover of Rs. 180 crores in a short period of 30 months.” The company states that it is “operating a fleet of more than 225 tractor – trailers” on his website.[2] The company refers to the team which works in the company but does not disclose the names of the team members.[3]
It refers to its units like Inland Container Depot (ICD) Panki, operated by M/s. Kanpur Logistics Park (KLPL), a subsidiary of PLIPL and Multi Modal Logistics Park (MMLP), Bihta[4] of Pristine Magadh Infrastructure Pvt. Ltd, Mega Food Park, Maize Processing Center and Agri Logistics Hub at Mansi, Khagaria, Bihar. It also refers to Private Freight Terminal at Cuttack, Orissa, Private Freight Terminal at Ludhiana, Punjab and Private Freight Terminal at Indore, Madhya Pradesh but does not reveal further details about it.[5] 
“We have already started construction on the 70-acre plot in Mansi and substantial work would be completed by February, when we will get the food park inaugurated. To start with, we will have 8-10 food processing units and the number will go up to 32 to 36 in the coming years,” said Aashish Kumar Jha, chief executive officer of the Pristine Mega Food Park Private Limited.[6]
Facts
·         Villagers do not want to give up their fertile land for any industrial or infrastructure project
·         The process of land acquisition at the site is illegal and illegitimate under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. 
·         There is a proposal for establishment of Mega Food Park at Mansi, Khagaria, Bihar by M/S Pristine Mega Food Park Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi with an investment of 146 crores claiming to provide direct employment to 10790 people. State Investment Promotion Board approved it on February 8, 2013. It is  an initiative of the Pristine Group of companies. It is claimed that it is being undertaken Mega Food Park Scheme of Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India.[7] 
·         Pristine Logistics and Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd. (PLIPL) is setting up a Mega Food Park in 70.3 acres of land at Mansi, Khagaria under this scheme of Ministry of Food Processing Industries, Government of India in consortium with leading food processors of the country.[8] Besides 70 acres of land for CPC and another 50 acres is to be added later on.
·         Pristine Logistics has received a grant from the Ministry of Food Processing Industry has to set up a mega food park at Khagaria in Bihar[9]
·         Creation of Primary Processing Centres (PPCs), Collection Centres (CCs) and a Central Processing Centre (CPC).  CPC proposes to create a dry warehouse of 45000 MT capacity, dedicated 20 MW power station, Multi-commodity cold storages of 5000 MT capacity, Deep Freeze Store of 1500 MT capacity, Effluent Treatment Plant of 1200 ton/per day capacity etc
·         The total estimated Investment is Rs 414 crore. It is claimed that Rs 230 crore has been committed for investment.
Findings  
·         The villagers are protesting under the banner of Upjau Bhoomi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (Struggle Committee to Save Fertile Land) against the fresh efforts to acquire land. During 1986-87 a process was started to acquire land in Khutia Mansi in the name of establishing a Growth Centre.
·         During 2007-8, under instructions from the Bihar Government the then director of Bihar Industrial Area and Development Authority (BIADA), K K Pathak had recommended cancellation of the land acquisition process through four orders. The then District Collector, Mayank Barware had complied with this order. This in effect, cancelled BIADA’s plan to acquire land.[10]
·         Bihar Industrial Area and Development Authority (BIADA) has already allotted 70.3 acres of land at Mauja Khutiya, Mansi, Khargia, Bihar for a proposed food park at Mansi village.[11] This location is at a distance of 1 Km from the Mansi Railway Station and about 10 Km from Khagaria Railway Station.
·         Members of Upjau Bhoomi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti are facing Strategic Litigation Against Public Persons (SLAPP) cases. They are: Rajaram Yadav, Jajairam Yadav, Mahesh Yadav, Kamal Kishor Yadav, Santosh Yadav and Bablu Yadav. The cases has been filed by one Kolkatta based Devyani Mitra and Rina Arora who visited the village claiming to be working with some human rights organizations. The case no. is 91/2013 dated 26/05/2013.  In the FIR dated 26/5/2013, they introduced their organization affiliation by stating simply a “local NGO”.
·         There is another case against Kamal Kishor Yadav along with seven others. The case no. is 26/2013 dated March 1, 2013. There is another case 94/2013 dated June 2, 2013. These have been filed in Mansi police station.
·         Villagers have filed cases against the company officials like Sanjay Mawar and 6 others. The case no. is 27/2013 dated March 2, 2013.
·         There is another case under the SC & ST Act case no. 87/2012 dated 29/10/2012 which was resolved by the DSP in his supervision report on 17/11/2012 by referring to the matter as false but the same has been restored.
·         Complaints have been filed by the farmers in the CJM Court. These complaints are: case no. 343/4/13, 606/13, 1578/13, 289/13.  
·         The team witnessed the sign board of Pristine Logistics & Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd (PLIPL) in the Mansi village besides some makeshift bamboo structures. The team spoke to one Rakesh Kumar who claimed to be working for the company. He informed the team that none of the officials of the company were present.[12]
·         The team examined the documents concerning the land acquisition. About 200 acres of land situated nearly one Km South of this village land had been acquired for establishment of a factory to give employment to villagers. While some of the cultivators accepted the compensation for their acquired land, others have preferred appeal on ground of low acquisition rate. The suit is lying undecided for years,” [13] as per the document prepared during the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-07).
·         Khagaria District Collector failed to satisfy the team with his telegraphic answers. Syed Pervez Alam, the Collector who took charge of the Khagaria district on January 14, 2013 informed the team that the nullification of the land acquisition process was a ‘prakriyaagat’ (under process) action and not the final decision. The successors of Mayank Barwade and K K Pathak have reversed their initial orders. The team wondered as to how is this reversal not prakriyaagat-under process. The Collector could not provide convincing answer when he was asked to explain Collector’s role with respect to Section 11 A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 which states that the land acquisition process lapses if it is not completed within a period of 2 years. The relevant Section of the Act reads: “11A. Period shall be which an award within made.- The Collector shall make an award under section 11 within a period of two years from the date of the publication of the declaration and if no award is made within that period, the entire proceeding for the acquisition of the land shall lapse: : Provided that in a case where the said declaration has been published before the commencement of the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1984 (68 of 1984 ), the award shall be made within a period of two years from such commencement.“ It is clear that in the case of land acquisition in Mansi, Gaurashakti and Khutia mauza the award was announced two years after the commencement of the 1984 Act.  
·         When the Collector was asked as to which of the two companies namely Pristine Mega Food Park Private Limited and Pristine Logistics & Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd (PLIPL) are in possession of the land. He said the relevant papers are not with him. Therefore, he cannot comment on it. He added, the company has taken passion of all the land in Bihta when it was stated that the coming generation will not have land even to build their houses. .  
·         The team learnt that hooligans of the Pristine Company assaulted the farmers on many occasions. In one instance three farmers and a 75 years old lady were treated at Patna Medical College and Hospital for months. The silence of the district administration in these matters appears collusive
·         The Company in question is misleading and taking farmers with promises of jobs for a ride. This fraudulent practice must be probed.
·         The team learnt about the a big dharna was held before District Magistrate, Khagaria on June 6, 2013 with a demand to stop grabbing of lands illegally and illegitimately, arrest of named accused involved in the attack of farmers, probe of the move of providing jobs, withdrawal of  false cases against the protesting farmers, immediate release of the protesters including Kamal Kishore Yadav, Convener, Upjau  Bhoomi Bachao Sangharsha Samiti and removable of the camp of Pristine Company from lands of farmers.
·         More than 80% of the farmers give a signed list opposing hand over of their land to the Pristine company.
·         District administration appears to be covering up the case of gang rape by the workers of the company on June 16, 2013. In a scandalous act the local police has bungled and disclosed the medical report of the victim to media and given clean chit to the 5 accused persons. This merits probe.
·         In a joint order of Superintendent of Police, Khagaria and District Magistrate, Khagaria from Land Acquisition District Office dated 14/12/2011, Memo (Gyapank) no. 597, it is stated that 98.3o acre land of revenue village Khutia of Mansi block has been acquired by BIADA for setting up an industrial unit. It claims that under the relevant section of the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1984[14] after the payments of compensation to 80 % of the land owners, the possession of land has been taken by BIADA as per law. The joint order refers to Memo (Gyapank) no. 1928 of BIADA dated October 17, 2011 whereby BIADA gave the possession of the acquired land to Pristine Logistics & Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd (PLIPL) for establishing an industrial unit. For the land in question, land demarcation was scheduled to take place on December 15, 2011 at 10 o’ clock. To undertake this task and for the sake of law and order armed police force and police force with lathi were deployed.  No law has been cited to claim that even if 80 % of land have taken compensation at the rate of Rs 22, 000/acre in 1986-87. This claim reveals only partial facts. It does not disclose that Mayank Barbare, the then District Collector, Khagaria through his letter dated December 31, 2007 had returned the compensation amount to BIADA.[15] In any case only some villagers of Khutia took the compensation.
·         BIADA’s irrational and illegal action of attempting to acquire 98 acres of land will adversely affect some 300 families. Land in question remains in possession of the farmers.       
·         The team finds that the District Office, Land Acquisition, Khagaria has erred in its reading of Section 11 A of the Land Acquisition (Amendment), 1984.  The team reiterates and reproduces the exact test of the section as under:
[11A. Period within which an award shall be made
The Collector shall make an award under section 11 within a period of two years from the date of the publication of the declaration and if no award is made within that period, the entire proceedings for the acquisition of the land shall lapse:
PROVIDED that in a case where the said declaration has been published before the commencement of the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1984, the award shall be made within a period of two years from such commencement. Explanation: In computing the period of two years referred to in this section, the period during which any action or proceeding to be taken in pursuance of the said declaration is stayed by an order of a court shall be excluded.]”[16]
·         The team observes that the joint letter which claims compliance with the 1984 Amendment Act should have been signed by both District Collector and the SP but the documents available with the team shows that only District Collector signed the joint letter. The claim of compliance with the Act is incorrect. The order of December 14, 2011 issued by Dharmendra Singh, the then District Collector, Khagaria controversial and appears to be a result of corrupt practices. Dharmendra Singh’s tenure in the district was from May 24, 2011 to January 14, 2013.   
In its final report, the fact finding team will examine the Mansi, Khagaria situation after going through the detailed project report (DPR) of the company, the recent orders of the BIADA, District Collector, Patna High Court, Supreme Court, the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Rural Development on land acquisition, Bihar Agriculture Land. (Conversion for Non Agriculture Purposes) Act, 2010 and Bihar Agriculture Land. (Conversion for Non Agriculture Purposes) Rules, 2011 to comprehend the trend of shrinking agricultural land and the illegalities committed by BIADA and district administration in Mansi. Based on these, the team will arrive at its conclusions and recommendations.

Authored by
Gopal Krishna, Member, Fact Finding Team, Citizens Forum, Patna
Mb:8227816731, E-mail:gopalkrishna1715@gmail.com

Fact Finding Team comprised of following members:
Arun Kumar Singh, Nand Kishor Singh, Rupesh, Gopal Krishna, Indradev Rai, Nripendra Krishna Mahto, Bal Govind Singh, Parth Sarkar and Mithilesh Yadav


[1] http://www.pristinelogistics.com/
[2] http://www.pristinelogistics.com/management.html
[3] http://www.pristinelogistics.com/our_team.html
[4] http://www.pristinelogistics.com/services.html
[5] http://www.pristinelogistics.com/infrastructure.html
[6] http://www.telegraphindia.com/1121125/jsp/bihar/story_16236353.jsp#.UdJfMtg9klg
[7] http://industries.bih.nic.in/SIPB/Districts/Khagaria.pdf
[8] http://pristinemegafoodpark.com/
[9] http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-11-29/news/35410728_1_mega-food-park-logistics-parks-container-depot
[10] Letter of K K Pathak, IAS, Managing Director, BIADA dated 30-11-2007
[11] http://pristinemegafoodpark.com/project_location.html
[12] Site visit by Fact Finding Team, July 1, 2013
[13] http://planningcommission.nic.in/reports/sereport/ser/bihinter/st_bihch12.pdf
[14] It received the assent of the President of India on 24-9-1984 and published in the Gazette of India, Extra. Pt. II, s. l, sl. no. 86, dt. 24-9-1984
[15] Letter of Mayank Barbare, the then District Collector dated 31/12/2007, 19/2/2008
[16] Section 11 A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 was inserted by an amendment Act 68 of 1984




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