Shimla: Land leased out to hydropower and cement projects, mainly to Jaypee group of companies, was questioned by congress lawmakers whereas the government on Monday responded on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha by assuring of action against any infringements of the laws, if noticed.
Pointing out the variance in implementing land laws for the common man and big industrial houses, senior congress leader GS Bali during question hour sort to know the total land leased out to Jaypee Group and whether the government was aware about any violations having taken place, which included raising an apple orchard in the tribal lands of Kinnaur.
Revenue minister Gulab Singh Thakur responded with letting the house know that a total of 3675-08 bighas of government land had leased out to Jaypee group through various land lease deeds applied for from February 1993 to March, 2009.
However the minister was unable to furnish any details of private lands that the company had in possession after entering into lease deeds with owners.
With regard to a cement grinding unit of Jaypee company at Baghari in Nalagarh, the minister retaliated by holding the previous government responsible for turning a blind eye to allowing construction work of the unit even though the lease deed for the plant site had not been made.
Gulab Singh said that the illegal occupation was regularized after the company was asked to pay Rs 22.29 Cr as a onetime compensation for the violations made.
The government will not hesitate to take action against the company if it was using land leased out for a hydropower project in Kinnaur for planting an apple orchard, the minister assured the agitated member who was insisting that while none was allowed to buy land in tribal districts, power companies were violating the law with impunity.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal intervened in the debate to emphasize that the illegality of setting up a cement grinding unit was allowed by the previous congress government and it was only regularized after asking the violator to pay five times the lease land cost.
In response to another question by congress leader Kaul Singh, the revenue minister disclosed that 28 lease deeds had been signed with Jaypee group for construction of the 1000 MW Karcham Wangtoo project in Kinnaur for an amount of Rs 17.30 crore.
Seven cases of encroachment involving 4.94 hectares of government land by Karcham Wangtoo Company had come to notice against which eviction proceedings had been initiated.
Five cases pertained to dumping of muck in forest areas. A fine of Rs 24 lakhs had been imposed, the muck had been removed and trees had been planted in two cases. The remaining 3 cases were yet to be finalized, said Gulab Singh.
As Editor, Ravinder Makhaik leads a team of media professionals at Hill Post.
Spanning a career of over two decades in mass communication, as a Documentary Filmmaker, TV journalist, Print Media journalist and with Online & Social Media, he brings with him a vast experience. He lives in Shimla.