Bill on land Act amendment referred to select panel

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, August 12

With the matter pending before the Supreme Court, the Bill on amendment in HP Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1973 was referred to the Select Committee of the Vidhan Sabha today.

Revenue Minister Mahender Singh tabled the amendment in the Vidhan Sabha today. However, after a detailed discussion on the issue in which CPM legislator Rakesh Singha, Arun Kumar of the BJP and Congress MLA Ashish Butail participated, the minister agreed to refer it to the Select Committee of the Assembly.

The contentious issue of allowing change of land use of tea gardens for other purposes has been in focus. The previous Congress regime had tried to allow use of tea gardens for tourism in the name of tea tourism. However, the present BJP regime is keen to plug any scope for sale or change of land use of tea gardens that have been retained over and above the limit under the Land Ceiling Act.

Butail suggested that since Kangra Valley Tea Plantation Association had moved the Supreme Court, the Bill should be referred to the Select Committee till the decision from the apex court is not made.

"However, the land comprised in a tea estate which are within the permissible area prescribed under section 4 of the HP Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1973, should not be governed by the above provision," he advocated.

He contested that the owners of tea gardens who had not taken benefit of the Land Ceiling Act to retain excess land over and above the prescribed limit should be kept out of the purview of this amendment. He added that the government must retain the powers to acquire land under tea with itself as this land could be required for development works.

Singha said though he was a member of the committee, which recommended the amendments in the Act, he was not aware of the matter pending in the Supreme Court. He said he was not fully convinced about this amendment as the limit to retain land varied from 10, 15 and 30 aces in tribal areas.

"I am of the opinion that the government as well as the Assembly should have the right to acquire land of those people who were allowed to retain land in excess of the limit under the Land Ceiling Act," he remarked. He too advocated that the Bill should be referred to the Select Committee as it would be appropriate to wait for the court verdict in this regard.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service
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