Himachal toughens land use change laws for private universities

Shimla: Releasing land bought for setting up private universities in Himachal Pradesh just got tougher with the state assembly today passing a law increasing the time frame from 25 to 40 years for permitting any land use change should an institution fail to function during the period.

Chief minister Virbhadra Singh yesterday had move four bills in the Vidhan Sabha that were related to four universities for amending sections related the time period before which no land use change would be permitted.

The bills were taken up for discussion, after question hour, and each bill was approved by majority voice vote.

The amendment bills approved related to Establishment and Regulation of Shri Sai University, Internal University, The Institute of Chartered Financial Analyst of India University and Chitkara University.

Apprehending that 25 years was too short a timeframe for any educational institution to get established and that some private universities were buying excess land for the hidden purpose of diverting into real estate, the government intended to increase the period to 40 years before any university could seek any land use change.

The issue of establishment of private university, with some institutions acquire large chunks of land, had become a major election issue.

The chief minister also introduced four more bills related to establishment and regulation of universities in the house today. The bill presented related to Bahara University, Career Point University, Baddi University and APG (Alakh Prakash Goel) University, Shimla. The bills are slated to come up for voting after holding a discussion on tomorrow.

More than a dozen private universities have been opened up in Himachal in the last 10 years and the states stringent land laws (HP Land Tenancy and Reforms Act, 1972) particularly section 118 was relaxed for the purposes of permitting setting up of these institutions.

Section 118 of the law does not allow sale of land, particularly agricultural or common lands for commercial purposes to any non state resident or to any non agriculturalist, who may be from the state itself.

The law was enacted in 1972, under the aegis of the state’s first chief minister Dr Y S Parmar, in the belief of protecting the land rights of the resident rural population.

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.

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