Shimla: Having become unimplementable, the government today repealed a land consolidation law that was enacted less than a year ago but also used their majority to forcefully get a bill moved yesterday, seeking to exempt certain categories from land ceiling limits, referred to a select committee, whereas the opposition staged a walkout demanding its withdrawal, saying that it was not in the interest of the state.
Rising to oppose the HP Ceiling of Land Holdings (Amendment) Bill, 2011, senior congressman Kaul Singh said that the original bill enacted by state founder YS Parmar government in 1972 was for saving agricultural land.
He said that the law had withstood the test of time and there was need to save precious agricultural land in the state and amending it will only reinforce the belief that the BJP government was selling land to outsiders.
The congress leader has also opposed the very introduction of the bill on Thursday, saying that it was not in the interest of the state. However, the bill was introduced only after a voice vote.
Defending the bill, chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal it was the previous congress governments that had carried out 4 amendments in the HP Land Tenancy and Reforms Act 1972 and gave 2068 permissions for non agriculturalists to purchase land in 2003-07.
Making a reference that cases of land ceiling laws were pending before the High Court, Dhumal said that it was the first amendment being carried out by the BJP government but was prepared to refer the bill to select committee to incorporate views of the house.
At first Kaul Singh accepted the chief minister offer of referring the bill to a select committee saying â€˜better sense has prevailed upon the governmentâ€, but later retracted after congress lawmakers Harshwardhan Chauhan, Kuldeep Singh Pathania and Sukhvinder Sukku demanded complete withdrawal of the bill.
Taking a tough stand, Harshwardhan said the proposed amendment was not in favor of Himachal farmers.
He added that the government had not been able to spell out what the compulsions were amending the law, how many proposals seeking exemption of land ceiling were pending with the government and what the new ceiling limits would be.
Dhumal let the house know that under Apartment Act, a law enacted by the previous government 57 hectares and 110 hectares of land had approved by the earlier congress government which was in violation of ceiling laws.
He also said that whereas the previous congress government had allowed sale of 1443 hectares of land to non-agriculturalists, his government had permitted sale of 1229 hectares.
Kuldeep Pathania asked the government to withdraw bill as it was defeating socio-economic legislated enacted by the Parmar government and had even been upheld by the Supreme Court.
Opposing the bill, he said such a law would super cede the welfare of the state as agricultural land was scare and needed to be protected.
With congress members including Kaul Singh demanding withdrawal of the bill, the ruling benches forced a vote for the proposed amendment to be referred to a select committee.
With the treasury benched proposal being adopted by a voice vote, opposition members were on their feet, started shouting slogans and walked out of the house.
Earlier, the government repealed a preemption law, which gave co-sharers in a joint property put up for sale, the first right to buy it. The law was enacted for the purpose of consolidation and averting fragmentation of holdings.
Sukhvinder Sukku (Congress), opposed the repealing of the law saying it was a good law and an wrong notification by the revenue department had distorted the law. Kuldeep Pathania (congress) also opposed repealing of the law.