Connect with us

HW Community

Retention policy for illegal buildings in towns, Legislative laws for black money holders, but no mercy on poor farmers

Published

on

eviciton-of-farmers-in-himachal-pradesh

Himachal Pradesh Government’s eviction drive to remove people from encroached forest land is turning out to be an inhuman decision forced on poor farmers with a couple of Bigha and few Biswas in many cases. The government has introduced retention policy to regularize illegal construction in urban regions, but is showing no mercy on marginal farmers or small-scale apple growers who had dared to encroach a couple of bighas decades ago.

The violators and encroachers in towns are given chance to defend, and even legalize their illegally built structures by paying a nominal fee. However, the farmers are not given even a chance to defend themselves.

As per sources, two third of Himachal’s geographical area is under Forest Department and over 68.3 per cent of the farmers have less than a hectare of land. Private land for large-scale farming is scarce, which suggests that it is natural that the horticultural operations would spill over the forest land. Moreover, the government including forest revenue and forest department knew it very well that farming was being carried out on forest. Now, the government declared war on people whom they first encouraged to farm on forest land.

The attitude of government and the way it is conducting eviction is highly suggestible that the commercial buildings built illegally in towns are OK, but apple trees grown on forest land by villagers as their livelihood are not.

Senior leader of CPI(M) Rakesh Singh wrote to the Governor of Himachal Pradesh, Acharya Devvrat, requesting intervention to prevent demolition of homes of poor, small-scale farmers by the Forest Department under the garb of High Court orders. Himachal Watcher found it worth publishing with little editing as the there are lot of legal and logical arguments in it.

Mr. Rakesh Singh Pleaded that:

Himachal’s Small Farmers Living in Panic of Loosing Shelter

Reports are pouring from different parts of the state i.e. Banjaar, Prini, Naggar, Jagatsukh, Manali, Ani, Nitthar Arsu, Nirmand, Nankhari, Kotkhai, Rohru, Chirgaon, Jubbal, Nerwa, Deha, Chaupal, Theog, Dhar Kandharu, Sharmala etc. where notices have been served on the farmers to vacate their residential houses in which they and their families have been residing since generation.

These notices are being served upon them under the provision of the Himachal Pradesh Public Premises Act 1971. Ninety percent of these farmers belong to poor families owning less than three Bhighas of land in some cases only a few Biswas. They have been terrified because prior to these orders their apple trees were cut without giving them sufficient opportunity to defend themselves. Now, now orders have been made to vacate their homes. They have been ordered to carry out the dismantling of their homes themselves under verbal threats. They are warned that in case they did follow the orders heavy rent penalties along with imprisonment would be imposed on them for continuing to occupy their homes.

Highly Insensitive, Inhuman Step by Forest Deptt.

This step of the Forest Department is not only barbaric, inhuman but an action which amounts to declaring war on the poor. It is nothing but victimizing the Dalits, Widows, Handicapped and other distressed people of the society for no fault of theirs. There are also reports where widow of Army Martyrs are not being spared.

Did their husband lay down their lives in defence of the nation to one day witness the demolition of their homes which even the enemies do not dare to do so?

The government is very busy but, it is a request that Govt. must find time to address the problems of this category of the farmers. They are very much the citizens of this country. People are well aware the government has permitted the non-citizens to reside and carry-out their livelihood then why are the farmers being pushed to a situation where they will be forced to commit suicide?

Even Black Money Holders Being Provided Relief by legislating laws, then why not farmers?

All this is being done under the garb of court orders which are being twisted and being interpreted against the interest of the farmers with the intention to evict the poor and finish the livelihood of his family. The government does not realize that law cannot be interpreted and enforced mechanically. Government is not enforcing law but breaking the backbone of the farmers. Remember when backbone of farmers is broken it will not only lead to a serious Agrarian Crisis but with the loss of his livelihood fields will be prepared to sow the seeds of insurgency. The Government knows very well that even those with black money in this country are being provided relief by legislating laws but the poor farmers who produce food for the country are being treated like enemies. The political bosses will only be doing disservice to the state if such barbaric actions are not stopped forthwith.

Chief Minister should convene a special meeting of the cabinet to address the issues of eviction of the farmers.

Questions HP Govt. Should Answer before Eviction

Before the evictions are carried out, the cabinet must answer the under stated question and also must provide explanation to the people who have elected this democratically elected government.

1. Is it not correct the Himachal Pradesh Vidhan Sabha by Act No. 15 of 2000 amended the Himachal Pradesh land Revenue Act 1953 by inserting section 163-A on 17th April 2000 by a voice vote which was subsequently published in the Rajya Patra (Extraordinary) on dated 29-05-2000?

2.That based upon this amendment the farmers of the state were asked to apply for regularization of encroached land on an affidavit along with revenue stamps amounting to Rs. 50 (which was deposited in the Himachal Pradesh Treasury) for which the last date was 15th August 2002. Vide this notification of the government One Lakh Sixty Seven Thousands Three Hundred and Thirty Nine (1, 67,339) farmers applied for the regularization of their encroached land. If this is a fact then why are the farmers being victimized for no fault of theirs?

3.That the cabinet must explain to the people whether section 163-A of the Himachal Pradesh Land Revenue Act 1953 has been struck down by any court of law and if yes then the date on which it has been done so.

4.That when the farmers were asked by a government notification to apply for regularization of their land under the provision of Himachal Pradesh Land Revenue Act 1953 then any evictions if any are also to be carried out by the provisions of the same act. The cabinet must explain to the people as to why evictions are being carried out without giving any opportunity to the farmers to defend their cases and are being evicted by summary orders under the Himachal Pradesh Public Premises Act 1971 and in many cases evictions have been done without making eviction orders.

5.That why is the government not respecting the interim order passed by the Hon’ble High Court in CWP No. 1028 of 2002 and CMP 1645 of 2002 made by Justice Kamlesh Sharma and Justice Kuldeep Chand Sood dated 19-08-2002 which reads as “In the fact and circumstances on record, it is ordered that the proceeding for regularization of encroachments on government lands may go on, but PATTAS will not be issued under the impugned rules till further orders.” There are also similar orders made by Justice Shishak CJ and Justice AK Goyal on July 30, 2002 in CWP No. 1028 of 2002 and also orders made by Justice Lokeshwar Singh Panta and Justice R.L. Khurana in relation to amendment to Land Revenue Act by inserting section 163-A on September 2, 2004.

Till a special meeting of the cabinet is convened the demolition of the residences of the farmers must be stopped and directions of the Himachal High Court be sought on the implications of the interim orders passed by the court from time to time as quoted above.

Photo: Representational Purpose Only

HW Community

Report bursts myth about ‘big encroachers’ in Himachal’s tribal areas

Published

on

Big encroachers in tribal himachal

Shimla-Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective in collaboration with Zila Van AdhikarSamiti, Kinnaur, released its report titled, ‘Who Gains from the Forest Rights Act, 2006?’. The study conducted in the tribal district of Kinnaur, assessed 1351 Individual Forest Right (IFR) claims of 22 Forest Rights Committees (FRC) in the district where 132 FRCs have been formed.

The study found that 96.5% of these IFR claims were for less than 10 bighas of land and only 6 claims out of 1351 claims being of more than 20 bighas.

Jiyalal Negi, president of Zila Van AdhikaarSamiti, Kinnaur said,

The data shows that people are making genuine claims of land under their occupation mainly for their survival and not for grabbing land as is the notion that the administration holds.

The study looked at the landholding data of 417 claimants of the total 1351 showing that 67% of these have existing private land holdings under 10 bighas.

Negi further added that close to 26% of the claimants are in the category of Scheduled Castes, whereas they form only 17.53% of the total population.

The report also revealed that the average size of land claimed under FRA by the SC community is slightly more than the average land claimed by ST community. Prakash Bhandari from Himdhara Environment Collective emphasized,

If the IFR claims of 417 SC claimants studied are recognized, then the average land holding size would increase from 8.86 bigha to 11.47 bigha,

showing that a fair and just implementation of this Act could play a critical role in reducing land ownership inequities in the region.

The Forest Rights Act, 2006 was legislated to support the survival of tribal and other communities living in areas where dependence on ‘forest lands’ is high. The act recognizes the individual as well as community uses of forestland dependent communities.

The study by Himdhara Collective was carried out to challenge certain arguments posed by the administration in Kinnaur as well as some other areas, questioning the individual claimants on the grounds that they belong to already landed communities and would be grabbing more land.

With such arguments dominating political and bureaucratic discussions, the implementation of the Act has remained poor, where only 129 individual claims have been approved across the state

, said SonamTargay and Rigzin, representatives from Lahaul-Spiti.

The representatives from both districts recommended that it is high time that the pending files with State and District level Committees be expedited. They also emphasized on the urgent need of training that should be conducted for both the administration and political representatives to remove misconceptions about this very important act.

Continue Reading

Environment

Watch: Baddi’s Kenduwal dumping yard exposes hypocrisy over Swachh Bharat

Published

on

Baddi solid waste management plant

Solan: The government agencies in Himachal Pradesh are quite infamous for disrespecting court orders, especially those relating to environmental protection. This time, we have a case where the local civic body first created an illegal dumping yard on a site selected and cleared for an integrated waste management facility and now covering it with soil and mud after the matter reached the State High Court.

In fact, the government does only what the court orders it to do after activists or the common people file petitions. There is a very clear hypocrisy going on over the Swachh Bharat campaign, which is often used to gain political mileage.

So far, the government has given no sign about being serious when it says, “The government is committed to protect and preserve the environment and ecology of the State.”

The ground-level situation of Solid Waste Management (SWM) in Himachal Pradesh can be best used to demonstrate this hypocrisy by both the current and succeeding governments and the public itself. There is no limit to the callousness of the government agencies at both local as well as the state levels.

Baddi MC waste

If we take up a particular case, then Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh area in Solan district is perhaps in the worst state. The Municipal Council of Baddi and BBN Development Authority (BBNDA) are responsible for the collection and scientific disposal of waste generated in the area. Both agencies had joined hands with a proposal of managing waste disposal in the BBN area.

The MC and BBNDA were supposed to establish a facility where collected waste could be disposed of scientifically. They had obtained the clearance for the same on August 13, 2015, and were allotted 42 bighas and 13 Biswas of land in Kenduwal.

However, as expected, the facility never came into existence. Instead, the MC and BBNDA began dumping MC waste at the selected site and turned it into a big open dumping yard. Within a couple of years, the life of the locals residing very near to this illegally created dumping site became a hell as every day they faced foul smell, flies, mosquitoes.

The nearest house is located merely at a distance of 30 meters while the Sirsa river floodplain is not far at about 100 meters from the dumping site. The locals, supported by an environmental group Himdhara Collective, approached the local civic body and the district administration several times with their grievance. None of the two disappointed the locals and, as usual, didn’t move a muscle.

About 1200 villagers wrote to the President of India after they were disappointed by their own government. 

The State Pollution Control Board confined itself to issuing repeated notices to the local bodies to solve the grievance of the locals. While the MC and BBNDA didn’t care about these notices, the HP PCB did not proceed to take proper action.

Very recently, the matter reached the State High Court pleading for justice.

In the interregnum, we direct that no garbage shall be dumped into the land owned by the present petitioner or dumped at any other site, save and except, in accordance with law. We further direct the Senior Environmental Engineer of respondent No.3 to visit the site and after inspecting the same, submit his report with regard to the compliance of the statutory provisions,

a bench of then Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Ajay Mohan Goyal had said in its order passsed on October 4, 2018.

However, both responsible bodies violated these orders as well and continued to dump garbage at the same site. The villagers captured videos of the same and wrote an application to the Superintendent of Police, Solan. The SP was informed regarding the violations of the court orders.

Letter to the SP Solan by Kenduwal petitioner

Letter written by villagers to SP Solan

The Court directed the Senior Environmental Engineer of the HP PCB to file a status report regarding this matter within four weeks

As per the report of the Chief Engineer dated October 15, 2018, the MC, Baddi and BBND hardly collect 30-40 percent of total solid waste generated, which is about 50 tons per day in this case. The collected waste is dumped at Kenduwal while remaining can be found scattered near the BBN area.

HP PCB has repeatedly directed the Municipal Council and BBNDA to dispose of the waste in a scientific manner in accordance with the provision of SWR,

2016, the report submitted to the court said.

The Municipal Solid waste is being collected unsegregated and transported to MSW site at Kenduwal where it is being dumped unscientifically. Most of the time it remains exposed in an open atmosphere and sometimes covered with soil layer, which is a breeding place for flies, mosquitoes, rats etc. The nearest human habitation is a house located at about 30 meters from the boundary of the dumping site, whereas the flood plain of river Sirsa is about 100 meters away from the site,

the report said.

The court concluded that despite having a clearance for the proposed facility to dispose of this waste scientifically, the MC and BBNDA failed to perform their duties.

We have gone through the contents of the report and are satisfied that prima facie, Municipal Council, Baddi, as well as Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Development Authority (BBNDA), have failed to perform their duties towards collection of solid waste and its dumping in a scientific manner at the MSW disposal site at Kenduwal, for which requisite clearance has been already granted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests,

a Bench of Chief Justice Surya Kant and Justice Ajay Mohan Goel directed the MC and BBNDA.

The court also directed the local agencies to take immediate action on the report of the Senior Environmental Engineer.

We direct both the aforesaid Agencies to immediately act upon the report of the Senior Environmental Engineer and submit their respective compliance reports within four weeks. Any delay or defiance will be viewed seriously,

the court directed the MC and BBNDA.

However, the entire waste at the dumping site is being buried under mud and soil.

MC Baddi/BBDNA may be asked to transport the waste as per the past practice of disposing the waste to the Jaypee Plant in Sector 25 of Chandigarh or to Mars Envirotech Ltd. Lalroo (Dera Basssi), Punjab or setting up of ward level compositing/shredding machines till the erection, commissioning and time-bound setting up of Solid Waste Management facility at Kenduwal Baddi, for the cluster of Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh area,

the report submitted to the court said.

According to the 2011 Census, the total pollutions of the Baddi MC and BBNDA area were 29911 and 29293 respectively while the total amount of waste generated per day was 25.50 tons and 20.30 tons respectively. The number of migrant labourers or workers from other states was not included in this Census. The populations in both the areas have increased by 2018, which implies growth in a waste generation too. But the responsible government bodies, as well as the district administration, are completely blank when it comes to the chapter on waste management. The Solid Waste Rules, 2016, do exist but only in papers.

The report of the PCB Environmental Engineer aptly proves it.

Continue Reading

HW Community

Watch: Tribals in Kinnaur village blow off HPPCL, police allegedly trying to fool them over hydro project

Published

on

Lippa villager tribals vs hppcl

Kinnaur: The Lippa Village in Kinnaur is one of the several villages including Rarang, Pangi and Telang that are facing pressure from the Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (HPPCL) to allow them to start construction work on the 130 MW Kashang Stage II and III power project despite a stay given by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in May 2016.

As per the villagers, the NGT had held that no objection certificate should be obtained from the affected village gram sabhas before issuing a forest clearance. However, the gram sabhas never gave any NOC as their individual claims under the Forests Right Act 2006 were not settled yet. However, the HPPCL claims it possesses the NOC given by the villages and trying to re-open the construction work using various pressure tactics, allege the villagers. The villagers question the Corporation from whom did it obtain the NOC.

On October 9, 2018, the HPPCL staff came to Lippa village with a heavy local police force to discourage villagers from protesting. What requires attention here that the district administration and the local police, thus the State Government, are assisting the Corporation in its bid to violate the court orders. Moreover, as seen in the video, a local police official was also seen arguing in support of the Corporation with the villagers when it wasn’t actually his job.

They definitely underestimated the villagers considering them mere bunch of tribals and tried to fool them.

However, they faced severe protests and demonstrations from the locals, united under the banner Paryavaran Sanrankshan Sangharsh Samiti. Eventually, the HPPCL staff and police force had to retreat after villagers stopped and reasoned with them.

Another fact that needs attention here is that the villagers reasoned with them legally. They were aware of all proceedings of the court as well as its directions to the Corporation. The Corporation and the police tried their best but couldn’t confuse villagers by flashing papers signed by the Deputy Commissioner of the Superintendent of the Police.

The work on the project cannot be started by HPPCL on account of the non-completion of the process under the Forest Rights Act 2006 in the area,

said members of the Samiti.

Watch Video

The National Green Tribunal on May 4, 2016, directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the State Government of Himachal to place the forest clearance proposal in front of the affected Gram Sabhas for their perusal. The judgment was passed in an appeal filed by Paryavaran Sanrankshan Sangharsh Samiti Lippa against the forest diversion for the said project.

Lippa village picture

Lippa Village in Kinnaur, Photo: Manshi Ashar

The appeal was made on the grounds that HPPCL had violated the provisions of the FRA Act, which require a mandatory NOC of the Gram Sabha of villages to be affected by the diversion of forest lands for the project.

The judgment had concluded that “the Gram Sabha shall consider all community and individual claims” in the process bringing under it the cultural, religious, environmental and livelihood impacts caused due to the loss of forests and water sources.

The process of filing claims on forest land under the Forest Rights Act was initiated by the Forest Rights Committee of Lippa, formed for verification of the claims in the year 2016 itself. As many as 47 individual claims and one community claim were sent to the sub-divisional level committee (SDLC) Pooh, the Samiti said. However, the process of settlement under FRA 2006 has been slow due to the apathy of the administration and the State Government, the Samiti alleges.

It said that last month the District Level Committee has recommended the Community forest rights claim of Lippa whereas the Individual claims were not yet recommended. No specific objection or reason has been stated by the SDLC held on August 31, 2018, as to why the individual claims were being returned and not recommended. The people are in the process of filing petitions to the DLC requesting the SDLC to state the reasons based on which they have not been recommended.

Meanwhile, the Samiti alleges, the company, instead of waiting it out till this process is complete has been pressurizing the villagers to allow them to start work on the project in the area for which the forest rights claims have been filed.

In 2017, the State of Himachal Pradesh falsely contested in front of the NGT that despite sufficient time the claimants (residents of Lippa) have not submitted their claims and have not been cooperating, said the Samiti.

Following submissions from the Paryavaran Sangharsh Samiti that the claims were already under process, the NGT put on record in December 2017 and January 2018 that individual and community claims had, in fact, had been filed by the villagers.

It needs to be noted that the final judgment and subsequent orders of the NGT clearly state that the project proponent can approach the village for the consent of Lippa gram sabha on forest diversion for Kashang integrated project stage I and III only when the process of settlements of rights under FRA gets completed

Despite this, the HPPCL has used various pressure tactics on us to allow construction work. Various visits have been made by project authorities to the village to misguide and intimidate the people and begin work. On August 24, 2018, the Superintendent of Police, Rekong Peo issued a letter stating that the project proponent would have to be given police protection as they had completed all legal requirements as per the NGT orders. This is completely false,

said the members of the Paryavaran Sangharsh Samiti.

We are extremely troubled that instead of waiting for the process under FRA to be completed and following the spirit of this act of the Parliament as well as the NGT order, the company is misleading the police and seeking police protection against the interests of the community,

the members further said.

The Paryavaran Sangharsh Samiti Lippa also sent a counter to the Superintendent of Police with a point-by-point response on the false objections raised. The counter also stated that “in case of any violation we will be forced to file a complaint under the Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and Amendment Act, 2018”.

The Section-3(g) of this act states that wrongfully dispossessing a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interfering with the enjoyment of his rights, including forest rights, over any land or premises or water or irrigation facilities…by a non-SC-ST person (without consent or against will) is a punishable offence.

Despite that, the police entered the village on October 9 to pressurize the villagers. However, after the protests and detailed deliberations, the official team and police were forced to return.

Continue Reading

Trending