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Govt may let a select few to sell tea gardens

Having failed to formulate a policy to allow sale of land under tea gardens, the government is again trying to push the agenda through the Cabinet but only to benefit the select influential persons so that they get permission to sell prime land in relaxation of the Land Ceiling Act.Sources revealed that a case had been prepared to approve the sale of tea estates in complete violation of the spirit of the Himachal Pradesh Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1972. The extent of land, owned by the two politically influential tea estate owners in Dharamsala and Palampur, is learnt to be over 1,000 bighas. The case is likely to be placed before the Cabinet even though there are more than 25 requests pending before the state Revenue Department, where permission has been sought from the government to sell land under tea gardens. Despite two unsuccessful attempts by the Congress regime to legalise the sale of land under tea gardens by formulating a policy and getting it approved by the Cabinet, now the attempt is to benefit the two individuals. The previous BJP regime had also made a similar attempt to formulate a policy to lift the ban on the sale of land under tea gardens. “There can be no pick and choose policy. As per a policy, either all tea garden owners should be granted permission to sell land or the law should apply uniformly to all,” said a tea garden owner. He even threatened that if there was discrimination in granting permission, he would move court.It was under Section 5 of the Act, 1972, that exemption had been granted to both tea estates, state and Central Government, re-registered cooperative framing societies and Himachal Pradesh agriculture university to retain more than 150 bighas. It was as per the HP Ceiling of Land Holdings (Amendment) Act of 1999 that complete ban was put on sale of land under tea cultivation and gave the government the power to acquire it if put to any other use. Tea cultivation is primarily confined to Kangra district and very small area of Jogindernagar contiguous to Palampur, which has some of the biggest tea estates.


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Senior editor with Himsamachar

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