DHANBAD: Although Belgaria is better known as a rehabilitation township for the families living in Jharia affected by underground fire, it is just one of the five colonies in Baliapur block that were proposed to be developed to shift the 1.04 lakh affected families.

Further, as per the master plan, apart from Baliapur block, three townships were to come up at Baghmara block for non-BCCL families and another at Nirsa block to shift both BCCL and non-BCCL families.

However, delay in the process of acquiring land due to the unwillingness of the owners to part with their plots over the failure of the government to provide higher rates slowed the rehabilitation process and left the authorities with space crunch.

Some steps were initiated to transfer around 950 acre land owned by Bharat Coking Coal Limited (BCCL) in Mukunda area of Baliapur in 2013 and to acquire 468.3 acre land in 2015 in six different places across the district as per the urgency provision of Land Acquisition for Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, but the process could not be completed due to procedural and legal hurdles.

Jharia Rehabilitation and Development Authority’s (JRDA) initiative to acquire land apart from Belgaria started with the effort to acquire 120 acre raiyati land in Nipania Mauza of Baliarpur block, 4km from Belgaria Township. The authority also tried to acquire Dokra and Sabaigara areas (300 acre) in Baliapur but the process could not be completed.

In 2013, a fresh effort to develop another colony on a 950-acre land of BCCL in Mukunda area was initiated. BCCL gave its NOC to JRDA to construct houses, but the process met a legal wall as construction without transfer of land was not possible. The land was also located near the fire-hit areas of Jharia.

JRDA in 2014 issued a tender to construct 400 temporary tenements on a 3.26 hectare land of reclaimed mines, but the process was later shelved as during the scientific and technical viability study, the durability of the sites for constructing houses could not be justified.

In 2015, faced with the emergency situation of subsidence and gas emission, JRDA tried to speed up the process of land acquisition under the urgency provision of Land Acquisition for Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, but the state government later didn’t agree to pay the higher rate.

On being contacted, former Dhanbad deputy commissioner Amit Kumar said, “With the increase in the height of the buildings, land requirement has decreased. We will also get 800 quarters built by BCCL that will further reduce our land requirement for the rehabilitation.”

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