On January 1 this year, Modi laid the foundation for construction of nearly 1,000 houses on about seven acres of land with an estimated budget of Rs 133.99 crore. The state urban development department has zeroed in on the 3-acre Mitra Mandal ground spread in Jagarnathpur here to begin the first phase work of the scheme.
However, the administration could not start the work after protests by the locals who are agitating under the banner of Basti Bachchao Sangharsh Samiti (BBSS). On Thursday, the Ranchi Municipal Corporation had scheduled a meeting to pacify them but it was cancelled after the residents did not turn up.
Ranchi mayor Asha Lakra said efforts are on to pacify protesters. “The protesters are ignorant about the benefits of this project. Today, we had scheduled the talks with the locals but we had cancelled them as most had gone for work and none turned up. We will try to re-schedule it on a Sunday or some other holiday. We are sure of solving any issue through talks,” she said.
Mintu Paswan, the convener of BBSS, which represents 26 localities in and around Jagarnathpur, said they have appealed to the state government to shift the project to another vacant site saying that the earmarked site is the only playing ground for their children.
Talking to TOI, Paswan said there are several concerns among the residents after the announcement of the project. “First, the earmarked site has historical significance as international football matches were held here earlier. Moreover, this is the only open ground in the area for playing and other cultural activities. A highrise will end that.”
He further said, “None of the officials took us into confidence before selecting this site and we came to know of it only when the foundation stone was laid. Besides, the site is only of three acres and the project is proposed on seven acres. It meant the localities around the area will be acquired and several families will be displaced in future. We will not allow that to happen.”
Paswan added, “Most importantly, the government is claiming that the houses are meant for the EWS, but the price of each unit is quite high and none of us who live in the localities nearby will be able to afford it.”
According to the provisions in the project, the Centre will invest Rs 5.5 lakh per unit, which has about 350 sqft area, while the state’s government’s share is Rs 1 lakh. Each selected beneficiary will have the bear the remaining price amount of Rs 6.79 lakh.
According to Paswan, the majority of the two lakh residents of the 26 localities would not be able to afford the amount and said, “Most of us are casual workers who have a hand-to-mouth existence. The houses are definitely not meant for us, so for whom are these houses coming up? We are not against the project but we are against acquiring of the village land and future displacements. The government should consider our genuine demands.”