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BJP leasing out Govt land in Shimla worth crores to RSS-linked organizations at a throwaway price: CPI(M)

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HP Govt leasing out land in shimla to rss

Shimla: One day ahead of the Shimla Municipal Corporation’s meeting on June 29, Bhartiya Janata Party-led state government is facing criticism over the proposal to lease out government land to organizations associated with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) at a throwaway rate.

At a time when the city needs land for public facilities like playgrounds for children, parking lots/complexes, community buildings etc., the government is being alleged of losing focus on the priorities.

The former Mayor of Shimla city and leader of the CPI(M), Sanjay Chauhan, on Thursday said the state government has decided to lease out two pieces of land owned by the HP Public Works Department worth crores to two of RSS’s organizations at a throwaway price, which is a complete misuse of the public property and resources, he said.

He said the current government has decided to lease out 22669.38 square meter land in Tutikandi in Shimla city to Matrivandana – an organization linked to the RSS.

Similarly, he further alleged, a piece of land measuring 257.15 square meters is being given to Vivekanand Kendra in Nabha at a throwaway price.

The government is rendering landless farmers homeless and snatching away their livelihood by evicting them from forest land and felling apple-laden trees, but at the same time, it is offering land to organizations which would use them to expand their propaganda, Chauhan said.

He further pointed out that the government has not provided even two Biswa piece of land to poverty-stricken, homeless families to build homes, however, it did decide to provide land worth crores in the middle of the city to the said organizations.

The party said the government is working on the direction of the RSS and deviating from its constitutional duties. The party has demanded a roll-back of these decisions at the earliest or to face public protests.

The land belongs to the people of Shimla and it must be utilized for their facilities instead of gifting it to organizations which are working to promote disharmony among the people.

Chauhan said.

Further, the SMC has proposed a hike in the honorarium given to the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Ward Councillors. A proposal to buy a new car for the Mayor is also on the list. The Deputy Mayor has also asked SMC to provide him with an official vehicle.

The SMC House is expected to witness a ruckus in tomorrow’s meeting as half a dozen of BJP’s Ward Councillors had demanded the removal of Mayor and Deputy Mayor following their failure to run the city efficiently.

Earlier, the Councillors had also submitted a written complaint regarding the duo to a minister. Some of them had even threatened to boycott the meeting if the demand was not met. However, no notice was served to move a dissolution motion.

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BJP Govt in Himachal faces criticism due to misunderstanding over a clarification

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Non-Himachali govt employees can buy land in Himachal

Shimla: Recently, after a clarification was issued by the Himachal Pradesh Revenue Department to the Deputy Commissioner of Kangra district regarding Section 38-A of Section 118 of the HP Tenancy & Land Reforms Act stirred a controversy. The clarification said children of non-Himachali employees of the State government can also buy upto 500 square metres of land in the State for building a house.

The ruling government led by the Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur faced severe criticism with allegations of ‘selling land to non-Himachali people for a non-agricultural purpose’. The same clarification was issued earlier in July too, but that did not catch the attention of the media or the people.

It was repeated in August and this time it did rounds of social media. The Chief Minister yielded to the mounting criticism and withdrew clarification issued.

However, the original provision was actually introduced by the previous government through an amendment. The current government was just extending this provision to other family members of the eligible employees. However, only one member of the family was allowed to apply under Section 118 of the said Act.  Moreover, there was no exemption from the Section 118. The candidates were still required to apply under the Act to obtain permission.  

In July 2014, the then ruling government led by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh had embedded provisions in Rule 38- A of Section 118 of the said Act through an amendment. It was called the ‘Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms (Amendment) Rules, 2014’. The amendment was mostly related making it easier for non-Himachali for setting up industrial units in the state.

The amended Act in its sub-section 3 of the Rule 38-A along with other points said,

“A person working in the state for more than 30 years recommended by the concerned local body ( DC) for grant of permission” can buy a land upto 500 square metres for constructing a residential building.

Read A Notification of the Revenue Department Issued in Sept 2014:

Similarly, a person who fulfils the above-mentioned eligibility can also purchase land up to 300 square metres for construction of a shop.

The previous Congress government and several petitioners had been reaching the court time to time terming the provision to ban non-agriculturists and non-Himachali’s from buying land in the State as a violation of the “Articles 14, 15, 19 (e) and (g) of the Constitution. Section 19 (e) of the constitution says that an Indian citizen has the constitutional right to reside anywhere in the country as per his wish.

In June 2016, the Chief of HP Congress, Sukhwinder Sukku, had also supported the need to amend the Act on similar grounds.

The petitioners argued that this rule is also creating hindrances in developmental activities in the State. It was claimed that even non-agriculturist Himachali people were also barred from buying land for any purpose other than agriculture which was unfair.  

The Act was amended multiple times since its adoption and the current government is also in favour of making amendments in the Act to relax conditions for acquiring land in the State. The government believes the dilution of this Section would make it easier to invite more investments, thus, help in the growth of the economy.

Moreover, acting on these petitions, in September 2016, the Himachal Pradesh High Court had even directed the state government to make suitable amendments in rules to facilitate the purchase of land, both agriculture and non-agriculture, by non- agriculturist Himachalis.

This court deems it fit and proper to direct the state government to make suitable amendments to Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972 read with HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Rules, 1975 in order to facilitate to purchase any land (agricultural and non-agricultural) in the state by non-agriculturist Himachalis residing in the state for decades, prior to the date of commencement of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, within a period of 90 days from today,

a division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Sureshwar Thakur said.

At the same time, the people of the State and social organizations have always been against any dilution of Section 118 of the Act, which was passed in 1972 to check to sell of agricultural land to wealthy non-Himachalis by the poorer agrarian community. The government feared the trend would lead the native farmers landless and the economy of the state would also be affected as the majority of the population was dependent on agriculture and horticulture for livelihood.

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Congress wants CM Jai Ram Thakur to do what it couldn’t do during its own tenure

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sukku meets cm jairam thakur

Shimla: With the elections of 2019 nearing, growing drug and substance abuse among the youth of Himachal Pradesh (HP) has begun to become visible as a matter of great concern to the leaders of the Indian National Congress (INC). They want the new government to include the provision of more stringent laws against the drug peddlers. Unable to do much about it during the tenure of Congress, its leaders including Mukesh Agnihotri are now seeking action from Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur-led government of Bhartiya Janata Party.

Congress said it supports the government in matters related to the formation of stringent laws against drug mafia.

Congress expects the government to enact new laws in the monsoon session of the HP Legislative Assembly.

On August 20, Mukesh Agnihotri, the leader of the opposition, in a media statement said he wants the ruling government to make provision of capital punishment for drug peddlers and make peddling of synthetic drugs a non-bailable crime. He adored the recent decision of the government to conduct a joint meeting with seven neighbouring states. He also supported the proposal the Chief Minister had made in the meeting regarding the introduction of a mechanism for a regular medical checkup of the students to diagnose for symptoms of drug addiction or substance abuse.

The loopholes in the Narcotic Drugs & Psychoactive Substance (ND&PS), 1985, which were not visible to the leader of the opposition during the tenure of the INC, have now become conceivable. He pointed out that there is a provision of bail for Heroin (Chitta) offenders caught with a quantity up to five grams. He wants the new government to make the offence of peddling synthetic drugs non-bailable.

He made the new government aware of the fact that youth of the state is heading right towards the jaws of synthetic drug addiction.

Another group of Congress leaders led by the President of the HP Congress Committee and sitting MLA of Naduan, Sukhwinder Sukhu, with 15 other leaders, followed Agnihotri and met the Chief Minister on August 21 and submitted a memorandum to enact stringent laws against drug peddlers.

Sukku also wanted the Chief Minister to instil the fear of laws to discourage the drug peddlers. He could now see that the bordering areas of Himachal need joint efforts of the police of concerned states.

Also, now he has come up with several suggestions for the new government.

The Chief Minister has assured the Congress delegation that Himachal would be made a drug-free state.

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A dozen of BJP Councillors demand removal of Kusum Sadrate as Mayor, warn of boycott

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MAyor kususm sadret

Shimla: The Shimla city is facing more neglect from the Municipal Corporation as it continues to be in a defunct state owing to the internal feud between the Ward Councilors and the current Mayor Kusum Sadrate and Deputy Mayor Rakesh Sharma.

The Mayor was seen running after the annoyed Councillors to save her seat while the Deputy Mayor has no say.

A couple of days ago, about 11 BJP Councilors had reportedly expressed their disappointment with the performance of the Mayor by submitting a written complaint to the government.

The Councillors have warned the government that they will boycott the upcoming monthly meeting of the SMC House if the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were not removed.

The Sadrate has completed one year in the office of the Mayor on June 20, which made the situation more awkward for the party. 

In order to avert an embarrassment, the duo would have to make sure that majority of BJP Councillors attend this meeting.

The Councillors alleged the Mayor of displaying arbitrary attitude while conducting the business of the house. They also complained that majority of the developmental projects in their wards are either stuck or progressing at a snail’s pace.

The Councillors say they are not able to face the people of their respective wards, especially after what happened during the water-paucity.

Moreover, the Councillors were not happy with Mayor’s decision to leave the city for about a week to attend a conference in China amid an acute shortage of drinking water supply.

If that was not enough, she denied the suffering of the people by rejecting reports of a water-crisis situation in the town. According to the Mayor, the crisis was just a media hike and propaganda of the opposition.

At the same time, the Councillors are complaining that despite such clamour in the city, the Mayor is still not available even for them as she hardly stays at the office.

The Mayor reportedly joined the Chief Minister’s visit to Sawada while the Councillors were waiting for her to arrive at the office.

The Councillors said the Mayor is seen attending events or photo-shoots with Chief Minister or the Ministers, and rest of the time is spent in visits to the party office and Secretariat.

Further, these Councillors have been maintaining that the Mayor was not able to run the business of the MC House properly. The meetings of the House were not conducted regularly, and whenever they are conducted, there was hardly any time to debate the issues of the public interest. The last meeting did not last for even half-an-hour, said one of the offended Councilors.

Councillor Arti Chauhan has asked the Mayor to resign by taking moral responsibility of failure to fulfill the commitments made to the people before the elections.

Another Councillor said they had not elected Sadrate to enjoy tours and photo-shoots.

While the Mayor was in China, for the first time, Councillors and the Deputy Mayor of the ruling party had staged a walked out from a meeting when they were cornered by the opposition over the issue of failure to respond properly to the water crisis.

The rebel Councillors also expressed concern over degrading state of sanitation as the workers remained on strikes as many as four times during last one year. Further, the workers are now annoyed with the MC for its decision to out-source the door-to-door garbage collection in five Wards to a private contractor.

The Mayor, however, said she has done the best she could do. She showed faith in the government and her organization by denying news of revolt among the Councilors.

In the 34-member SMC, BJP had managed to grab power of the civic body for the first time in the elections held in 2017. While BJP has a support of 19 Councillors including two independent, Congress is not far behind at 14. The CPI (M) has one elected Councillor in the house too.

Earlier, the opposition Congress had almost convinced one of the BJP’s Councillor to support a motion to dissolve the MC and dethrone the Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The Councillor was reportedly offered the Deputy Mayor’s chair as an incentive. The opposition had even taken signatures of 14 Councillors who were supporting the dissolution of SMC.

However, the party high command had somehow managed to silence this Councillor as well others protesting against the current Mayor.  As it turned out, the situation has now become more complicated as the Councillors report no change in the attitude of the Mayor. 

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