Shimla: Chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal stated that no dilution of section 118 of HP Land Reforms and Tenancy Act, 1972, had been carried out but the government has settled upon grant of a Himachal bonafide certificate to any resident who has been living in the state for two decades.
Speaking at a meet the press program, the chief minister said that opposition congress was spreading canards about section 118. The section debars any non-agriculturalist from buying agricultural land in Himachal.
He said, â€œNo dilution of the Act has been made. Four amendments of 1976, 1988, 1995 & 1997 in section 118 were carried out when congress was in power.â€
Only thing the government has done is granting a bonafide Himachali certificate to any resident who has been living in the state for two decades, he clarified.
Besides, a bonafide Himachali certificate does not entitle one to buy agricultural land in the state, he said.
The chief minister reiterated that a new stringent anti-encroachment law had been enacted which would be enforced to evict illegal occupation of forest or other government lands.
He said, â€œThe government would act tough on encroachers. Those who have felled forests to raise apple orchards would be evicted.
Retracting from an earlier governments policy to regularise encroachments set out in 2002 when he was chief minister, Dhumal said, â€œproviding relief to weaker sections, consisting of scheduled caste or tribe, widows and other marginal people on encroachments made would be considered.â€
Making a specific mention of former union steel minister Virbhadra Singh having surrendered 80 bighaâ€™s of land, which he could not legally own, Dhumal said that it would be inquired whether the government had taken physical possession of it.
Terming the 100 days of UPA government as disappointing, he said that none of issues that Himachal has been raising: be it increasing quota of rice and other foodgrains, expansion of rail network, increasing industrial package to 2013 and beyond, starting the Kangra central university or releasing funds for the Rs 2000 Cr natural calamity losses that the state suffered because of heavy rains in 2008 stands resolved.
Responding to Virbhadra Singhâ€™s accusations that the CD case slapped on him was mainly for electoral purposes, Dhumal said, â€œif that was the motive, the central forensic and science laboratory (CFSL) report about Virbhadraâ€™s voice matching with that on the audio recording sent for testing could have been made public before the Mandi parliamentary election. The government had received the report before the elections.â€
The matter was sent for a vigilance inquiry in November, 2007 when Virbhadra was chief minister and now law is catching up. After registration of a case both he and Vijay Singh Mankotia would be questioned on the matter by the investigating agency, he said.
Over BJPâ€™s Shimla meet fallout which has proved a Pandoraâ€™s box for the party, Dhumal said, â€œBJP would emerge stronger from the cleansing after the detailed analysis that party leaders dwelt upon at the Chintan Baithak.â€
Photo by: Amit Kanwar.