Himachal Lawmakers Trash 1887 Forestry Law

Shimla: A law operating on basis of an 1887 Forest Settlement Report was dumped by lawmakers here on Friday by adopting the HP Abolition of Payment of Haq-Chuharam Bill – 2011 through a majority voice vote.

Based on the Forest Settlement Report of Kangra done by Andrson in 1887, the old law entitled Khewatdars, Patwaris, Lambardhars and Rakha’s to a part share (25%) of income from sale of trees on common lands in parts of Himachal consisting of sub-divisions of Dharamshala, Dehra, Palampur, Nurpur and Hamirpur.

Moving the bill, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal who holds charge of forestry said that pursuant to the HP Village Common Lands (Vesting & Utilization) Act 1974, the law enacted today would abolish the provision for payments of Hag-Chuharam to Rakhas (voluntary forest guards) who had been enjoying this right till now.

While the share of Patwari’s was scrapped after 1948, as they were declared government servants, the share of Khewatdhars (village community) and Lambardhars was done away in the 1974 legislation but because of non-clarity of legal provisions, Rakhas somehow were still getting their share in accordance with the 1887 fores report.

Since the share to Rakhas was not ‘malikana’ (ownership) entitlement of proprietary rights but was for ensuring their interest and cooperation in forest conservation and as they were not rendering such a service any longer, the legislation was needed to abolish such payments, he said.

Later, the Bill was adopted by a voice vote.

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