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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.

Madan has studied English Literature and Journalism from HP University and lives in Shimla. He is an amateur photographer and has been writing on topics ranging from environmental, socio-economic, development programs, education, eco-tourism, eco-friendly lifestyle and to green technologies for over 9 years now. He has an inclination for all things green, wonderful and loves to live in solitude. When not writing, he can be seen wandering, trying to capture the world around him in his DSLR lens.

Misc News/Press Release

Bilaspur Youth Dies of Suspected Drug Overdose

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Bilaspur youth drug overdose death

Bilaspur-A youth in Bilaspur district reportedly died of a drug overdose. Though the police is awaiting the post-mortem and forensic reports, it is almost certain that the youth had consumed some kind of drug.

A spoon, syringe, aluminium foil, mobile and some other objects were found near the body of the victim, the Additional Superintendent of Police, Bhag Mal confirmed.

The youth, who is identified as Aditya – a resident of Nihar Sector of Bilaspur town –had gone missing on Friday. As per the parents, he was a student of a private engineering college based in Bilaspur. On Friday, the parents said, he had taken money from them to deposit his fee after which he disappeared.

Following his disappearance, the parents had filed a police complaint. On Saturday, he was found dead near the workshop of Public Works Department.

The ASP said that all the objects found near the body of the victim were sent for forensic testing. The exact cause of the death could be ascertained only after we receive reports of post-mortem and forensic tests, he said.

The incident once against brings the growing, unpalatable drug menace in Himachal Pradesh into the limelight. It is not the first such case where youth is suspected to have died of a drug overdose. There are other instances too. However, parents avoid revealing the cause of deaths so that this information doesn’t reach the media.

If we consider the actual intensity of drug menace in Himachal, youth in several districts, especially Shimla, Mandi, Hamirpur, Bilaspur, Solan etc. are in the grip of drugs.

In 2019, during the first seven months, 1,622 cases were already filed under Narcotic Drugs & Psychoactive Substances (ND&PS)Act. Over 780 people were arrested in these cases. Other than charas and opium, over five kilograms of Heroin (Chitta) was seized in these cases. The number would be much higher currently.

In September 2019, two locals were nabbed in Mandi district’s Salapar with 100.31-gram heroin. It was the biggest consignment of heroin (Chitta) seized in the district so far.

In October 2019, Shimla Police had registered two cases wherein 85 grams of Heroin was recovered from three accused.

Seizure of such high quantities clearly indicates that demand of Heroin is increasing in the state.

With the advent of social media, the tricks of the drug trade have also changed; most of the drug sales nowadays are done on “Dark Net”. The state needs to ensure that our intelligence and police are abreast with all the latest technological advancement to nab the big fish of the drug trade.

The Director-General of Police, HP, RS Mardi, admits that after regular campaigns to uproot cannabis and poppy from fields, smuggling of synthetic drugs has worsened the situation.

He informed that a Mobile App “ Drug-Free Himachal’ and Nasha Nivaram Toll-Free Helpline(1908) were launched to control the ongoing drug menace. In addition, Nasha Nivaran Samitis comprising of NGOs, youth, media, retired police officials, panchayat members etc. have also been formed to deal with the menace on local levels.

School children are being sensitized about the harmful effects of consuming drugs and their addiction. Over 2200 schools and over 170 colleges have been covered under this sensitization campaign of the state police.

What is more alarming is that during the last two years, a large number of local youth have been nabbed in relation to supply of Heroin. In some of the cases, the youth were found to be members of influential families having a strong political background.

In this row, n September 2019, Hamirpur Police had arrested two youth with heroin at a hotel. One of the youth was identified as Kunal Bhatiya, 18, son of Anil Bhatiya – an influential political leader.

In June 2018, four including the son of ex-MLA of Bilaspur, Bambar Thakur, was allegedly caught with 498 grams of charas that he was carrying in a car registered in his father’s name.

Names of Nigerian drug peddlers have also appeared on multiple occasion. In July 2018, based on a tip, Shimla Police had laid a trap and successfully arrested a Nigerian national Kra Basile and seized Heroin from his possession.

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Art & Culture

Video: Mega Natti at Kullu Dussehra 2019 Performed by 4,000 Dancers to Send Out Message of Cleanliness & Nutrition

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Kullu Dussehra 2019 Manha Natti

Kullu- International Kullu Dussehra Festival on October 12, 2019, witnessed a traditional dance “Natti” performed by four thousand women at the Dhalpur’s Rath Maidan. It event was named as “Mega Natti or Manha Natti”. Women from various parts of the district including Manali, Sainj, Anni, Banjar etc participated in the dance.  Not only a large number of locals swarmed the Rath Maidan to witness this majestic scene, but visitors from foreign countries also witnessed and captured it in their cameras.

This year’s theme was Swachhta (Cleanliness) and Poshan (Nutrition). These thousands of women, dressed in the traditional attire of Kullu district, danced on the beats of traditional folk songs and instruments for one hour. During the first 25 minutes, ‘Natti’ was performed by Anganwari workers to send out a message on cleanliness.

The tradition of performing “Natti” by a group of thousands of women had begun in 2014. While about six thousand women had participated in ‘Natti’ in 2014, in 2015, 9,892
women had performed during Kullu Dussehra, which was recorded in the Guianese Book of World Records.  

Since 2014, this tradition continues, and every year Mega Natti is organized on different themes. In 2015, the theme was “Save Girl Child.”

Cabinet Minister Govind Singh Thakur also attended the event as the Chief Guest. The Deputy Commissioner, Dr Richa Verma, was also present on the occasion. Both participated in the dance too.

The District Administration has been receiving appreciation for its efforts to highlight the traditional culture of Kullu and the messages of awareness it is delivering through this event.

While Dussehra in other parts of India is celebrated for only one day, in Kullu, the celebrations continue for a week. During this period, approximately five lakh visitors, including domestic and international, attend the weeklong festivity.

 

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Misc News/Press Release

Crop Diversification in Himachal Enhanced Crop Production and Farmers’ Income, 2nd Phase of JICA Project to Launch Soon: Govt

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crop diversification project in Himachal Pradesh

Shimla-Crop Diversification Project in Himachal Pradesh under Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has helped in enhancing the crop production and the income of the farmers through vegetable cultivation, said Chief Secretary Dr Shrikant Baldi while interacting with the Mission team of the JICA. The team was headed by Deputy Director, South Asia Takumi Kunitake, which met Baldi on October 11, 2019, to discuss the launching of the second phase of this project in the state.

Baldi told the team that the farmers had been actively involved under this project and they were managing the irrigation schemes at their own. The agriculture department had been successfully implementing this project and all the works were being completed as per the estimated cost.

The efforts would be made to launch the second phase of the crop diversification promotion project soon in all districts of the state for which all the formalities would be completed before the completion of the first phase, Baldi said.

This Mission team was on the tour of various districts of the state to study the positive results of the JICA funded crop diversification promotion project after launching of its first phase in five districts. It also held a discussion regarding launching of the second phase for which the state agriculture department had submitted Rs. 1104 crore project to the government of Japan through the government of India in June 2019.

Baldi stressed that there was a need to provide more irrigational facilities to the farmers and bring more area under vegetable cultivation. He urged the JICA to approve the second phase of this project before completion of the first stage so that the expertise of the available trained staff could be utilised in the next phase as well.

The Mission team apprised that after submission of its report, the government of Japan would take a decision on launching of the second phase. Following it, another Mission would visit Himachal Pradesh to study the detailed project report. Thereafter, the letter of consent would be signed with the India and Japan governments. The team assured that efforts would be made to start the second phase of this project in all districts of the state, for which all the formalities would be finalised before the completion of the first phase.

The Mission team also held detailed discussions with Principal Secretary Onkar Chand Sharma on Thursday. The team visited four out of total five districts included under the first phase of the project (Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Kangra and Mandi districts).

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