Former additional secretary in the Gujarat government K G Vanzara has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Vijay Rupani stating that the Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act 2020 does not distinguish between “land mafias” and landless and homeless people and therefore should be amended appropriately.
In the letter dated January 8, 2021, K G Vanzara, who is the brother of retired IPS officer DG Vanzara, has stated that law which came into force on December 17, 2020 could end up being misused against people who are landless or homeless.
Under this Act, the accused face 10-14 years of imprisonment and penalty equivalent to the jantri rate or ready reckoner rate of the land in question.
Giving instances of slums in Gulbai Tekra in Ahmedabad and those near Indira bridge in Gandhinagar, he said both civil and criminal cases can be filed against residents who have been living at these spots for several decades. He said there were an estimated 80 lakh homeless people in Gujarat. “Thousands of such dwellers will come under the purview of the new law,” the letter stated.
“If a house owner develops a small garden or erects a shed for his vehicle in an unused land adjacent his home, then also the owner can be prosecuted under the law and can be imprisoned for 10 years,” the letter stated.
He also stated that the government needs to bring in more clarity in the legislation and if a piece of land gets occupied by people who either do not have any land to farm or a place to stay, then in such cases, the law cannot be enforced.
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