JORHAT, Dec 2 - A project to construct residential and commercial buildings at the Jorhat public bus terminus at Kotoki Pukhuri area here has come under fire from RTI activists-cum lawyers with the latter seeking intervention of the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and the Speaker of the State Assembly, to stop the project.
The bus terminus, which is owned by the Jorhat Development Authority (JDA), and was inaugurated by then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in 2004, has a history of facing hiccups and not achieving its purpose as ASTC too had constructed an Inter-State bus terminus opposite it leading to JDA bus terminus almost not being utilized. There was a threat of the bus terminus being taken over by HUDCO about 11 years ago for not being able to pay the loan. But a few years back the loan was completely paid.
RTI activists and lawyers Rintu Goswami and Gautam Bora, has written letters to the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, Assembly Speaker, urging cancellation of the project citing the reason that the project was against public interest and was being done without proper approval of the Government.
Goswami said that altogether 14 bighas, three kathas and 12 lechas plot of land was allotted to the JDA bus terminus and now the JDA has arbitrarily and unlawfully allotted the entire land to a private builder without obtaining any approval of the Directorate of Town and Country Planning.
Goswami said that the plot of land which was allotted for a bus terminus could not be used for other purposes without having the approval of the State Government.
Pointing out clauses of the agreement with the private builder, both Goswami and Bora said that out of the entire residential flats to be constructed, only 20 per cent will be owned by JDA with rest by the private party.
Similarly, only 23 per cent of the commercial part of the buildings will be owned by JDA and more alarming was the provision of the builder be able to mortgage the land with any bank or financial institution for loan, alleged the lawyers. They alleged that under the garb of public interest, the project has been initiated at the behest of some vested interests.
Stating that the land could be used for other public interest purposes, the duo announced of mobilizing public opinion against the project by holding citizens� meetings and by other mediums like social media etc. They also said about approaching the court if the Government did not intervene and stop the project.
JDA Chairman Prasanta Jyoti Goswami, when contacted, however, denied the charges and said that the project had been prepared as per Government norms and rules. Goswami stated that residential flats will be constructed at only three bighas plot of the total land under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana for economically backward people as per norms of the scheme.
The JDA Chairman said that the 20 per cent share of JDA flats will be given on rent while rest 80 per cent will be sold by the private party to people under PMAY scheme. Claiming the project to be of public interest, Goswami said that over four bighas plot will be available for parking public transport vehicles like buses, minibuses etc and will be under JDA.
He said that no new commercial building will be constructed as the construction will be over the existing market in front side of the terminus. Goswami said that the JDA revenue was expected to increase and the authority which a few years back faced financial difficulties, could run smoothly with additional revenue to be generated from the project. He said that at present the JDA was not getting any Government financial aid.
Rintu Goswami, while responding to the JDA Chairman�s statement, said there was no mention of PMAY flats in the agreement signed between JDA and the builder regarding the project.