DEHRADUN, August 23, 2022 (TBNN)
For the sake of keeping a balance between two core issues of not letting investment suffer and prevention of misuse of land in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, an expert panel formed by Uttarakhand Government on land law is likely to recommend some stringent provisions for purchase of land in the hill state by non-domiciles.
The panel is also mulling to recommend the government to permit departments to issue essentiality certificates on purchase of land for commercial purpose, industrial use and tourism sector. For this, the land law panel, headed by former chief secretary Subhash Kumar, will shortly hand over its report recommending provisions for purchase of land in the state.
It is hoped that the document will get a final shape in a meeting today and then reach the Chief Minister either in the last week of August or the first week of September 2022.
Subhash Kumar, panel’s head told The Press that we’re not stopping non-domiciles from purchasing land for residential purposes. But we want to prevent misuse of land, like someone buying land for industrial or tourism purposes and later changing its land use to sell it in small plots. Sources said that the panel may also suggest stricter provisions for outsiders who wish to buy land in the hill regions.
It may also recommend withdrawing the land bought initially for industrial purposes only to get its land use changed later. It is likely to prohibit the sale of more than 12.3-acre land for industrial purposes.
The curbs were introduced during the Congress government of 2002-2007, when it passed a law restricting non-Uttarakhand residents from buying more than 500 sq metre of land for residential purposes. Later, the Bharatiya Janata Party ‘s government, during its rule in 2007-2012, reduced the upper cap to 250 sq metre.
People from other states were not allowed to purchase agricultural land in both instances. Notably, the Trivendra Singh Rawat Government, in a bid to attract investments in the hilly areas of the state, had eased restrictions on land purchase in 2018.
The land purchase limit was raised from 12.5 acres to 30 acres for projects related to tourism, energy, industry, agriculture, and horticulture. The change was made by adding two sections,143 (A) and 152 (2) to the Uttar Pradesh Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950, through the Uttarakhand Amendment Act.
In some cases, people were allowed to purchase above 30 acres of land in the state as well. Rather than taking permission at the state-level, purchasers were allowed to seek approval at the district-level itself. However, this met with local resistance and even some B.J.P. leaders felt that the easing of restrictions would lead to an influx of outsiders and the rights of locals will be affected. When the issue snowballed, Chief Minister Dhami formed an expert panel headed by Subhash Kumar in December 2021 to look into the matter.
Subhash Kumar hinted that the panel may not touch upon the issue of allowing non-domiciles to purchase 250 square metre land for residential purposes. For commercial, industrial or tourism purposes, the panel is looking into various aspects.
However, we are thinking about recommending the government departments to issue essentiality certificates for each of such projects, Kumar said.
In exceptional cases, where more land is required, the departments would be required to give their consent. The panel may also suggest withdrawing the right from district magistrates to allocate land in their respective districts. Till now, the panel has held five meetings.