About a week before Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced his support for NDA presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind, the Centre weighed in favour of the Bihar government while resolving a longstanding dispute between Bihar and Jharkhand over a property in the national capital — Bihar Niwas. The Union Home Ministry convinced the Jharkhand government to settle its claim on Bihar Niwas, in Chanakyapuri area of New Delhi, and accept compensation in lieu of it, signalling a victory for Nitish. The Union Urban Development Ministry, which also participated in the negotiations, has been asked to work out the amount of compensation to be given by Bihar to Jharkhand, government sources told The Indian Express.
Confirming this, Bihar Chief Secretary Anjani Kumar Singh told The Indian Express, “We made the proposal that has been accepted by Jharkhand. Both the states now have two properties, and we have agreed to pay compensation to Jharkhand based on the bifurcation rules laid down by the Union Home Ministry.”
The dispute dates back to 2000, soon after Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar, following which the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000, was passed, envisaging the mandatory distribution of assets between the two states. The Act allowed transfer of one-third of Bihar’s assets to Jharkhand.
Jharkhand demanded one-third of the 32-room Bihar Niwas and 64-room Bihar Bhawan — both in Delhi. The Bihar government contested its claim, saying that Jharkhand has two addresses in Delhi — Jharkhand Bhawan in Vasant Kunj and a vacant plot near Connaught Place.
The Jharkhand government, however, said the property allocated to the state in Delhi did not have enough space and pressed its claim on Bihar Niwas. The previous UPA government then directed the Bihar government to give Bihar Niwas to Jharkhand.
In 2004, the Bihar government moved the Supreme Court, which asked the chief secretaries of the two states to resolve the issue by consulting the Union Home Ministry and Urban Development Ministry. “We held several rounds of consultations before both sides agreed to this solution. It will be conveyed to the Supreme Court,” said a top Home Ministry official.