A chorus has resumed in the Madhya Pradesh government for claiming unused land allotted to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited in Bhopal during the 1960s.
The state government had a decade ago initiated efforts to reclaim over 2,200 acres from BHEL that is in proximity to the capital’s prime business localities.
“BHEL has since surrendered nearly 1,600 acres to various institutes and nearly 300 acres have been encroached upon. It now has 790 acres of unused land,” a state government official said.
Asked the commercial value of the land being reclaimed, the official said, “The state government is demanding land for institutional projects. It will be used for public purposes.”
BHEL was allocated 6,045 acres of land between 1956 and 1962. Of this 2,998 acres are for its plant and residential colony. The company has since 2006 surrendered 158 acres for a campus of the All India Institute of Medical Science, 22 acres for an inter-state bus terminal, and 98 acres for other institutes.
“The state government had a decade ago initiated a dialogue with the Union heavy industry ministry to reclaim the land. That dialogue has been resumed,” a source in BHEL said.
Union Heavy Industry Minister Anant Geete during a visit to Bhopal earlier this month said Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had discussed the land issue with him informally. Geete added if BHEL were to explore a joint venture for job creation, the Centre would consider the claim.
In 2006, the Madhya Pradesh government had made intense efforts to re-possess 2,243 acres of unused BHEL land and had sent a proposal to the Centre in this regard.
“The proposal was turned down,” the BHEL source said. “The Union government refused to give back the land on the grounds that it needed it for BHEL’s expansion,” he added.
In 2008, Chouhan had assured Vilasrao Deshmukh, the then Union heavy industries minister, that his government would not demand the surplus land and would make more land available if a proposed NPTC-BHEL joint venture were to come up in Bhopal.