Himachal Govt backtracks on amending land law – bill sent to select committee

Shimla: Fearing a backlash over amending section 118 of the HP Land Reforms and Tenancy Act, 1972, for which a bill has been moved in the house, the government even in the absence of any opposition member today beat a hasty retreat by choosing to send it to a select committee before considering to debate the proposed legislation.

With the opposition having staged a walkout over demanding immediate discussion on a adjournment motion about a lathi charge on congress workers on last Friday that was disallowed by the chair, the controversial bill proposing to amend the land law came up for discussion.

With no opposition member in the house, senior BJP leader Suresh Bhardwaj while saying that the government did not have any intention to dilute section 118 of the said law asked for sending the proposed legislation to a select committee as it needed to be discussed threadbare before initiating a debate on the amendment proposed.

Responding to the suggestion from the ruling bench itself, revenue minister Gulab Singh said that the government was not interested in passing the proposal in a hurry and was open to it being discussed by a select committee.

Ceding to the demand of Suresh Bhardwaj, the minister proposed sending the bill to select committee which was passed by the house sans the opposition.

The government also moved three bills in the house today, which included holding of direct elections to the post of mayor and deputy mayor in municipal bodies and setting up a technical university in Hamirpur.

Congress, CPI(M) oppose amendment to land laws

Talking to media in the opposition lounge, state congress president Kaul Singh Thakur said that the government by proposing to amend section 118 of HP Land Reforms and Tenancy Act 1972, was attempting to make the law in fructuous.

He said that congress was opposed to any such amendment that would allow colonisers to build and sell apartments without obtaining government approvals.

He said that law had been made to protect agricultural lands of residents being bought up by outsiders and attempt was being made to overcome all the restrictions it holds.

Opposing the move, CPI(M) member secretary Tikender Panwar said that the attempt to dilute the provision of section 118 of Land Tenancy Act showed the duplicity of the BJP government which has all along been demanding a separate policy for hilly states.

“By proposing to dilute the special law that protects the interest of hill people shows how serious BJP is about demanding a separate policy for hill states,” he said adding, “CPI(M) will oppose the move to dilute the law before the select committee.”

He said that that the dilution was being done to facilitate easy sale and purchase of land in Himachal Pradesh whereas under the present provisions of law a non agriculturalist cannot buy land in the state.

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