New and stringent land laws need of the hour in Uttrakhand
New and stringent land laws need of the hour in Uttrakhand
People from Uttrakhand demand a rule in line with Section 118 Himachal Pradesh Tenancy And Land Reforms Act, 1972 to be enacted in Uttrakhand
An increasing number of aspirational second home buyers/investors are now investing in vacation home destinations in hill stations, owing to the picturesque location, booming hospitality industry and concept of home stays and wellness that such regions offer. One such state, Uttarakhand and its cities like Dehradun, Haridwar, Rishikesh and Mussoorie, have been favourite investment destinations among investors and buyers from across the country. Some other cities such as Nainital, Rudrapur and Chamoli, are also on the radar of many home buyers looking for a second home.
Uttarakhand is gaining popularity among investors and vacation home buyers from the nearby cities of Chandigarh, Delhi, Jaipur, Lucknow, etc., who are keen on making investments here for self-use and even for earning rentals.
Uttarakhand is open to investments from people from other states. There is no restriction on the size of the property/plot, if one is buying within the municipal limits of the cities. However, as per the rules, a person can buy only 250 sq metres of agricultural land falling outside city area. This also means that two or three people of the same family or friends can buy co-joined or distant, separate 250 sq metre land plots.
This “free for all approach” is more of a bane and less of a blessing for the state in the long run. Long term adverse impacts of this approach have been listed in detail in the later part.
In order to put an end to this “free for all” approach we the people of Uttrakhand demand that a law in line with Section 118 Himachal Pradesh Tenancy And Land Reforms Act, 1972 be enacted in Uttrakhand by the current government.
Summary of Section 118 Himachal Pradesh Tenancy And Land Reforms Act, 1972 is as under:
Since the economy of the state is agricultural/ horticultural driven, Himachal Pradesh has certain provisions under which non-Himachal residents and non-Himachal agriculturists cannot buy land in Himachal. This is through the enactment of Section 118 of the H.P. Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972 (hereinafter Act) which provides for restriction on transfer of land in favour of a person who is not an agriculturist of the State. Such a transfer can only be made by the Special permission of the State Government. The basic intention behind this sections enactment of protecting the interests of local inhabitants while ensuring that the development of the State is not hampered.
Non-Himachalis do not require any special permission to buy or lease constructed property, flat, etc. However, this is applicable only in land allocated as urban area, not in land allocated as rural or agricultural.
Barring a few exceptions only transfers made to an agriculturist are allowed in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
Adverse impacts of the “Free for all” approach
1- Rapid urbanization is putting unnecessary strain on the state’s natural resources and pushing the available city infrastructure to the brink of breaking point. We have to choose between two groups of people who are contributing to this rapid urbanization:
a- In the absence of livelihood and lack of healthcare and education facilities Uttrakhand natives from rural areas who migrate to urban areas in search of better life
b- People from big cities with deep pockets who buy property in the Uttrakhand which serves both as an investment, earning rent / appreciation on their investment and a vacation home at the same time.
First right to any benefit arising out of a property in Uttrakhand (be it in the form of rent/ appreciation or in any other form) is that of the of the local population and not someone who is already sitting over a pile of money in city like Delhi, Gurgaon or any other big city looking for ways to increase their wealth.
2- As per data from the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) in the year 2018, 3,137 violent crimes were committed in the state of Uttrakhand as compared to just 1,861 in the state of Himachal Pradesh. (Source- Times of India, Date- 11/01/2020). The difference is glaring and the obvious difference between the 2 states is the fact that the latter controls who resides in the state and the former is more of a “dharamshala” open to all, with do what you want kind of a approch.
There have been a lot of instances where criminals from other state have found a safe haven in the state of Uttrakhand. Outsiders already residing in the state with links to these criminal organisations/individual are primarily responsible for this law and order problem.
So there is need to control who settles in the state.
3- Migration from villages in Uttrakhand is a big problem. Lack of employment and commercial agriculture/ horticulture is primarily to be blamed for this problem. Youth from the villages are forced to leave their homes and head to big towns in search jobs where a large chunk of these people end up doing marginal jobs in hotels, factories etc. just to make their ends meet and to feed whatever is left of their family back in the villages.
Wealthy businessmen from big cities often buy land in the hills to start all kind of commercial activities from these poor villagers at a sum that initially might sound huge but in the long run it is the locals who are looser.
They end up loosing their land; the money they received is spent over the course of time.
It all end with either the poor villagers either working for these outsiders in their hotels and other commercial establishments or the villager move to big cities like Dehradun, Haridwar with the money they have received with a dream of owning a house in a big city and a better life or they end up living the same marginal life they were living earlier depending on subsistence agriculture, pensions or money received periodically from family members working in bigger cities.
The government needs to come up with means to make agriculture/ horticulture sustainable and economically viable just like in Himachal.
4- Impacts of climate change are going to get worse in the years to come. Erratic monsoon, scarcity of water is the reality of tomorrow. Even now there are so many villages that are facing acute water shortage. As things start getting worse in cities people will start moving to the hills. It might happen in 5 years time it may take 20 years but it is bound to happen. If you don’t have enough for our self how on earth can we feed an outsider. The worst part is people settling from outside have the means (both money and cunningness) to push their weight around and ultimately they will prevail over the innocent locals.
5- Outsiders bring in more outsiders and the vicious circle will get bigger.
Take for example there is a channel on YouTube by the name Punjabi Trekker. Don’t get confused by the name this guy is settled in Kumaon Uttrakhand. From the title of the videos that have been posted on the channel it doesn’t seems that he is contributing or in any way giving anything back to the society.
He has posted a video on how to buy land in Uttrakhand, prices and other details. Video has 1.5 lakh views. Let’s assume only 5 percent of these people end up buying land that makes it 7500 people and with a average family size of 4 people that makes it 30000 people and this just one such channel and one such video.
6- Cities in Uttrakhand lack even the very basic of infrastructure. Even the capital city of Dehradun lacks basic infrastructure be it drainage, waste management, roads, good public transport, health care. We obviously can’t stop natives from rural areas in Uttrakhand from relocating to cities in search of a better life but we can and we should stop people from other states from doing so. Come visit Uttrakhand as a guest but sorry to say there is no place for you to settle, that should be the approach.
7- In order to keep our cultural identity alive it important that we keep the number of outsiders to a minimum.
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