After hiking the salary of legislators by about 30 per cent last November, the Bihar government has now decided to allot 2,650 sqft land in Patna to each serving legislator to build a house.
The government has decided to allot, through a society, the plots at “minimum rate”, which should be Rs 15-Rs 20 lakh per katha (1,325 sqft) as compared to circle rate of Rs 65-70 lakh and market rate of Rs 1-1.25 crore. There are 243 MLAs and 75 MLCs in the state.
Bihar State Awas Board, which already has 32 bighas in its possession along Ashiana Nagar-Digha Road in the state capital, will distribute the 2,650 sqft land to each legislator through Navvihar Vidan Mandal Sadasaya Grih Nirman Swablambi Sahkari Samiti Limited Patna. The society is likely to start functioning from August-end or September. The Bihar State Cooperative Federation and Bihar Land Development Bank will be the nodal bodies to allot land.
A cooperative department official said: “Bihar legislature recently endorsed formation of the society. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Shravan Kumar will be its chairman, Cooperative Minister Rana Randhir Singh its secretary and BJP legislator Sachindra Prasad Singh its treasurer. The three will be collectively responsible for land allotment.” The state housing board has enough land to accommodate 318 legislators, the official added.
Asked about the need for allotment of land to legislators at “highly subsidised rates”, Kumar said: “Let the society be registered first. There will be rules and bylaws.”
Eye on polls, largesse continues
The government bid to allot land to legislators for houses in Patna seems to be a continuation of its please-all policy to reach out to them before 2020 Assembly elections. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in particular, looks to reach out to the RJD, which has 81 MLAs. With leaders already beginning to cross over, the largesse may help the JD(U) president win over some more MLAs before the next election.
A cooperative department source, however, said the the state housing board had been lying idle and grappling with problems of land encroachment. “The government has decided to get every legislator a home of his/her own in Patna,” said the source, adding that many legislators had to stay on rent to attend House sessions.
An RJD leader said: “The government’s decision will be a bounty for legislators before 2020 Assembly elections. We too are finding it difficult to criticise it, as 81 of our MLAs are likely to benefit.”
For Ashiana road area, the current circle rates are: price of land per decimal (435.5 sqft) on principal road is Rs 30 lakh, principal road (residential/ commercial) is Rs 25.5 lakh, Rs 22.5 lakh on main road and Rs 20 lakh on inner road.
A city builder said: “Market rate of land in this area is between Rs 1 crore and Rs 1.25 crore. A legislator getting it at one-third of circle rate and one-sixth of market rate is largesse.”
A residential colony of Bihar legislators already exists near the veterinary college, where leaders like former Speaker Radhanandan Jha and RJD leaders Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi have houses. Besides, the government has been constructing duplex bungalows for sitting legislators for about Rs 600 crore.
Last November, the Bihar government gave 30 per cent salary hike to its legislators. The cumulative salary with sundry allowances and house rent of a legislator has gone up from Rs 1,57,500 to Rs 2,00,000 a month now.