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HP High Court strikes down retention policy after terming it illegal

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HP Government retention policy struck down by hp high court

Not only it contradicts with the object and purpose of the principal act, but was also “manifestly arbitrary, irrational, illogical, capricious and unreasonable.”

Shimla: As a huge setback for the potential beneficiaries of the retention policy, the State High Court has struck down the amendment made in the HP Town and Country Planning Act through a bill that was passed by the Congress-led government in September 2016.

 The government had sought to legalise illegally raised buildings/structures on “as is, where is” basis by imposing a trivial fee of Rs. 500 to 1,000 per square feet. 

A division bench of the high court comprising Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan said the insertion of Section 30-C in the amended Act violates the Article 14 of the Constitution, which provides for equality before the law.

It implies that the court is directing the government to go ahead with demolition of illegal structures as there was no legal hindrance to defend the action.    

Before striking down the amendment, the bench also held that not only it contradicts with the object and purpose of the principal act, but was also “manifestly arbitrary, irrational, illogical, capricious and unreasonable.”

“The science behind planning has given way to human greed and not the need, as the Minister wanted the House to believe,” said the Court  

The government had enacted the law from July 2017. However, the amendment was challenged by some petitioners appealing the court to consider it cheating with the honest people, who have followed all the rules and regulations regarding the construction.

The Court had stayed the implementation of it after the petitions filed by Abhimanyu Rathor, Raghav Goel and Hitanshu Jishtu.

The strongest argument given by then Minister of Urban Development, Sudhir Sharma, was that illegal buildings have mushroomed to an extent where mass demolition would leave people homeless and cause possible law and order situation.

The government said the people were not aware of the laws regarding the construction and raised buildings in wake of increasing demand for residential and commercial purposes amid rapid urbanization.

However, the Court made it a point that it was the duty of the government to create awareness among its people regarding the existing construction laws, and that it cannot use this argument as an excuse for its deliberate neglect towards the trend of illegal construction, which mushroomed right under its nose.    

On Friday, the Court finally dismissed the amendment under which the government was planning to regularize over 2,500 illegal structures in Shimla only.  

The government could not provide any solid facts about its explanation for introducing a retention policy, said the bench.

The Court pointed out that excessive construction will overburden the available resources and public amenities.

It said urban Shimla is clear evidence that the city did not develop in a planned and scientific manner. During the British-era Shimla was developed for a population of less than 20,000. However, currently, it is bearing a burden of over 2.5 lakh people.

The construction around the core area is so congested that a mild-intensity temblor could reduce the city into a tomb of rubble, the Court said. 

The destruction of ecology was another factor that the Court considered while striking down the retention policy.

Further, the Court has condemned the repeated efforts of the government to protect, patronize, and encourage the violators by creating such policies instead of taking action against them.

Campus Watch

Foundation Stone of HP Central University in Kangra laid, Will Be Ready in 3 Years, Says Govt

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HP Central University In Dehra, Kangra district

Kangra-The foundation stone of the Central University of Himachal Pradesh at Dehra in Kangra district was laid today by the Union Human Resource Minister Prakash Javadekar and Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur.

Prakash Javadekar said that the forest clearance for construction of this University was also accorded when he was the Union Forest and Environment Minister. The State Government deposited Rs 6 crore under CAMP Act for forest clearance.

As per the official information released, the Central University will have two campuses at two different locations. The first Campus would be at Jadrangal near Dharamshala, which would be spread in an area of 750 hectares. The second campus would be established at Dehra in an area of 287 hectares.

The Government said about Rs.1300 crore would be spent on construction of both these campuses and the same would be completed in the next three year, the government said. These campuses would be spread in an area of about 1000 hectare, making it one of the biggest University of the region.

The Government said that an amount of Rs.7044 crore was being spent on the education sector during the current financial year and a provision of Rs.7600 crore had been made for the next financial year.

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5MW Solar Power Plant in Bilaspur’s Naina Devi Ji Inaugurated

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Solar Power Plant in Naina Devi In Bilaspur district - himachal pradesh

Shimla-The 5MW Berry Dol Solar Power Plant constructed near Shri Naina Devi Ji Shrine in Bilaspur district was inaugurated today. The HP Power Corporation Ltd. claimed it spent Rs. 36.24 crore on this project.

As per the official information released by the State Government, this power project is synchronised with Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board (HPSEB) Ltd 33/11 KV network Kot.

The power generated was being sold to HPSEB. T

This power project is expected to generate 101-lakh unit electricity per annum, earning revenue of Rs. 4.40 crore to the State exchequer.

Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, MPP and Power Minister Anil Sharma, MLA Jhanduta  J.R.Katwal , IG Himanshu Mishra, Deputy Commissioner Bilaspur Vivek Bhatia, CO IRB Gaurav Singh were present on the occasion.

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Avalanche in Kinnaur buries soldiers, 1 killed, 5 missing and feared dead

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Kinnaur- An avalanche along the India-China border in Namgya region of Kinnaur district on Wednesday killed one soldier of Jammu and Kashmir Rifles while five others were buried and still missing. The body of one soldier, who was identified as Rakesh Kumar (41) of Ghumarpur village, Shahtalai, Bilaspur district, has been recovered. The rescue operation was underway at the time of writing.

The district administration and Superintendent of Police, Kinnaur, confirmed the news.

Jawans of Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and district police are carrying out an extensive search and rescue operation.  

As per initial reports, which are not clear, about 10 jawans of ITBP were hit by a massive avalanche at about 11 AM on Wednesday while they were moving from one post to another. Five to six jawans were buried. Remaining jawans rescued one of them who later died on the way to the hospital in Pooh.  

Verification of more details is still awaited.

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