Himachal Pradesh: Amendment Bill to stop misuse, sale of tea estate land sent to select committee

A bill introducing an amendment in The Himachal Pradesh Ceiling on Land Holdings Act,1972, seeking to curbing misuse of transfer and use of land meant for tea estates has been forwarded to the select committee following objections by both the ruling party members and the opposition in the Vidhan Sabha.

During the discussion in the House, Congress member Ashish Butail, CPI(M)’s Rakesh Singa and BJP’s Arun Kumar opposed the amendment and urged that the bill be sent to the select committee.

Butail said that the issue is pending in the Supreme Court and the House should wait for the hearing’s outcome. “Many tea owners do not have enough land to build their houses and some have very small chunks of land. These families should have the right to retain the permissible portion of the tea garden for other usage. The government can bring an amendment for those owners who have land above the permissible limit,” Butail added.

Rakesh Singha too said that the government must not give up its right to permit other usage of the tea gardens.

Arun Kumar said that in his constituency many families had very little land. Some had sold the land and built houses in the tea gardens. “If this amendment bill is passed, such properties will become benami,” he added.

Butail and Arun Kumar urged the government that a committee must be constituted in which all legislators from tea garden areas must be included.

After the discussion, Revenue Minister Mahender Singh informed the House that the government is sending the amendment bill to the select committee .

Thakur on Tuesday had introduced the bill in the House. In the bill, it was stated that at present Sections 6-a and 7-a of the Act provide for the change of land use and transfer of land under a tea estate, respectively, with the prior permission of the government.

“It has been observed that the land under tea estates has been invariably used for purposes other than tea plantation or have been transferred by way of sale by resorting to these provisions, which is against the spirit and intentions of the legislation. In order to address the issue, a high-powered committee was constituted, which included members of the Legislative Assembly from all political parties,” the revenue minister had said, adding that based on committee’s recommendations it was decided to make suitable amendments to discourage the change of land use and transfer of land under tea estates thereof by way of sale.

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