Congress asks for scrapping of leasehold to freehold cabinet sub-committee

Shimla: Congress has demanded dumping of a cabinet sub-committee constituted for considering converting leasehold lands into freehold saying that the government was not protecting the interest of state and had put it up for sale.

Speaking to the media, congress general secretary Ram Lal Thakur said “scarce agricultural land was being handed out to outsiders for industrial projects, private universities and other purposes with considering the “merit” of the proposal.”

Terming the proposal for converting leasehold lands to freehold as a total sell out he said it would only benefit the interest of industry, corporate houses, hydro projects and others who had been given land for specific purposes.

“One of the reason’s cited for doing so is to increase state revenue. Then why does the government not auction the leased lands,” he said?

He said the government had reacted within 24 hours to announce plans of acquiring the prime Bantony Castle property after plans for it being converted into a luxury resort were revealed by the media.

The government has not disclosed what it intends to do with the heritage property, he added.

Not opposing setting up of private universities, the senior congress leader said that permission for setting up these institutions had been given with considering the quality.

He said that whereas a BJP government in an earlier tenure (1998-2003) had announced a policy to regularize encroachments but now the applicants are being booked in police stations for having violated the laws.

He said that opposition wanted to know how many people in rural and urban areas had been given property rights over the encroachments, as promised.

Thakur said towards the end of the earlier term, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal had drawn up plans for carving out new districts and had even posted administrative officials in several places.

“It was a blatant attempt to woo the electorate before an election, which fell flat. Why has the BJP government not been able to revisit its unfinished agenda till date, he said?

Lashing out at BJP spokesman Randhir Sharma for alleging that union minister Virbhadra Singh had not surrendered 180 bighas of surplus land, the congressman said that it was not encroached land but ancestral land and the union minister had a right to choose which land he intended to surrender.

Ram Lal also said that 93 bighas of land had been given to Baba Ramdev in contravention of Indian Forest Act.

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