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  India   All India  19 Aug 2019  Section 118 of Himachal Land Reform Act in focus now

Section 118 of Himachal Land Reform Act in focus now

Published : Aug 19, 2019, 8:26 am IST
Updated : Aug 19, 2019, 8:27 am IST

Himachal BJP chief said the government will not relax the law with regard to the purchase of land in the state.

Sukhbir Singh Badal. (Photo: PTI)
 Sukhbir Singh Badal. (Photo: PTI)

Shimla: The Section 118 of Himachal Pradesh has suddenly come into focus of regional politics. Section 118 of Himachal land tenancy provides restrictions on buying of agricultural land by non-agriculturists in the state. Only bona fide Himachalis with agricultural background can buy land in the state.

However, after the abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, the alliance partner of BJP in Punjab. Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal said that Section 118 of Himachal is discriminatory in nature and should be abolished. The statement was resented by the leaders in Himachal Pradesh, as they feel all states should make such laws to protect their farmers.

However, in a strange twist of events the leaders of Jammu BJP have now moved a resolution to make a law for J&K on the lines of Section 118 of Himachal Pradesh to protect the bona fide residents of the state after the abrogation of Article 370.

Reacting to the abrogation of Article 370, Sukhbir Badal said, “Every Indian can rightly buy land and set up a business or industrial units in Punjab. But we cannot do so in Himachal Pradesh and several other states. This amounts to denial of a level-playing field within the country and it should be ended.”

The statement of the Sukhbir Badal had drawn strong reactions across party lines. State Congress president of Himachal, Kuldeep Rathore said, “It is absolutely unfair and illogical to compare Article 370 with Section 118 of Tenancy and Land Reform Act as in a hill state like Himachal, land is a scarce commodity with dependence of a majority of the people on agriculture,”

He said that the first chief minister of the state Dr Y.S. Parmar has brought about the legislation of Section 118, sensing that the precious land of the state would be very vulnerable to land mafia and wealthy people outside.

Though amendments have been made to Section 118 of Tenancy and Land Reform Act to facilitate industrial growth and investment, it is a contentious issue, which is politically volatile.

Similarly Himachal Pradesh BJP president Satpal Satti said the government will not relax the law with regard to the purchase of land in the state. Commenting on the demand made by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Badal that outsiders be allowed to buy land in the state, the BJP president said he might not have read state law carefully.

The BJP chief said it was wrong to equate the state law with Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave a special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Section 118 in the state law bars the transfer of land to non-agriculturists, Himachalis or non-Himachalis, without the permission of the state government. However, sub section 2 (g) gives non-agriculturists the right to purchase a land for building a house from the Himachal Pradesh Housing and Urban Development Authority without permission.

Tags: sukhbir badal, article 370