HP starts probe into Bhushan land

Close on the heels of cancelling the lease deed of land allotted to yoga teacher Ramdev’s trust, the Himachal Pradesh government has started a probe into the alleged illegalities in allotment of land to a trust owned by social activist Prashant Bhushan in Kangra.
“We have sought replies from revenue officials on eleven queries in respect of 4.68 hectare land purchased by Kumud Bhushan Education Society of Prashant Bhushan and necessary follow up action would be taken in case Land laws and Land ceiling Act was violated in granting the permission by previous BJP government,” Kaul Singh Thakur, Revenue Minister said.
Bhusan’s trust was given land by the previous BJP government, which had also allotted land to Ramdev’s trust.
“In fact, the government has decided to probe all land deals in violation of Section 118 of Tenancy and Land Reforms Act and Land Ceiling Act and other, ‘benami’ land deals during the BJP regime and will take necessary action,” he added. The authorities of the Revenue Department have begun scrutinising of documents pertaining to the purchase of land by the society.
The sale deed of the land was registered before a local registrar on March 4, 2010 and Revenue officials are scrutinising the relevant documents for preparing the report to be sent to the government for follow up action.
The owner of the land, a resident of Kamlehar (Palampur) village was granted permission to transfer this tea garden to Bhushan’s society in relaxation of sections 6-A and 7-A of the HP Ceiling Act, 1972 and the society was also allowed “change in land use”.
HP Land Revenue Act prohibits sale of tea gardens. Under Section 6 A of the Ceiling Act:”If the land exempted under ceiling Act is put without the permission of the state government to any other use than raising or maintenance of tea plantation or a purpose subservient to tea plantation, it shall be treated as surplus area and shall be deemed to have been acquired by the state government for a public purpose.”
The tea estates were exempted under the Ceiling Act on the basis of their nomenclature as “tea gardens” and change of use of such expected land was prohibited. The previous BJP regime reportedly gave sanction to Kumud Bhushan Educational Society to buy 4.68 hectares of land for construction of an educational institution on February 2, 2010 in Kandwari area of Kangra district.

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