Protests in Patna against Land Acquisition for Patna Metro Rail Project

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Patna, India (Metro Rail Today): Protests against the ongoing construction work of the Patna metro rail project in Bihar are growing, with hundreds of local people taking to the streets fearing forced displacement and loss of homes. The much-awaited project, widely seen as a new lifeline in the crowded and congested smart city of Patna, is likely to face more protests in the coming days as people don't want to sacrifice their land and homes for it.

The very first protest started on September 28,2021, as people opposed their forced eviction, followed by a protest against land acquisition for the metro depot on September 30 and October 1,2021. Protests in the Malahi Pakri area erupted after authorities carried out an anti-encroachment drive three days ago, leading to the forced eviction of dozens of low-income families. The anger of the locals increased when a seriously injured protestor Rajesh Thakur, in his late 30s, died during treatment at a hospital. He was injured during police action to contain the protests against the anti-encroachment drive. Supported by the Left parties, including CPI, CPI(M) and CPI (ML), people blocked the main roads for hours demanding compensation, a government job for the family of Thakur and rehabilitation of people whose huts and shops were demolished by the authorities. 

Manoj Kumar (CPI Leader) said, 

Thakur and several others were injured in police lathicharge when they refused to leave their huts built on the government land. Thakur died due to injuries sustained during police action against their Gandhian protest to resist the demolition of their huts. The government has been acting against poor people in the name of Patna smart city and suppressing them for the metro rail project. How can the government evict its people and demolish their huts without making any alternative arrangement for them?

Patna police have registered an FIR against 50 unidentified people allegedly involved in the protest against forcible eviction and demolition of huts at Malahi Pakri. As per police, protesters created ruckus and pelted stones at the police team during the anti-encroachment drive. 

B.S. Mandal, a resident said, 
How can we remain silent when more than 70-80 houses are standing on the land identified for the metro depot at Pahari? Similarly, there are dozens of houses on the land identified for the metro depot at Ranipur.  Hundreds of people, including women staged protests on the streets against the government move to acquire their land for the metro project. 

According to officials associated with the project, they have completed less than 10% of the work. The ongoing construction work that started a year ago is slow due to delays in land acquisition and the non-availability of funds.

The Patna metro rail project is likely to get funds from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) if it gets land acquisition for metro depot and other infrastructures. The JICA will contribute 60% of the total cost of the metro rail project as a loan, while the Centre and the state each will bear 20% of its cost. The state government has sanctioned around Rs 1,000 crore to the Patna district administration to acquire land for the metro depot.

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