Thursday, Oct 06, 2022

Haryana makes another attempt to clear Ther mound of squatters

Will soon notify rehab plan proposing 100-sq yd land per family, to bear construction cost for houses.

Haryana makes another attempt to clear Ther mound of squattersA view of the Ther mound in Sirsa. Express

Haryana government is all set to make another attempt to get vacated the controversial Ther mound in Sirsa – an 82-acre land declared a centrally protected site by the Archaeological Survey of India having immense historic value and which nearly 50,000 people now call home.

The government will soon notify a rehabilitation plan finalised by committee comprising five senior IAS officers of principal secretary rank.

So far, Sirsa’s district administration has identified 3,233 occupants of the Ther mound. However, on the ground approximately 40,000-50,000 people live on and around the mound.

“As a matter of principle, rehabilitation of illegal encroachers of government land under central protection ought not to be done. However, in view of the possible law and order situation, only those families who will be rendered homeless as a result of the eviction or those who are bona fide occupants on account of sale deeds of land and property will be eligible for the rehabilitation,” the committee has decided.

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The government has decided that each such “eligible families” will be given a plot of suitable size not exceeding 100 square yards in such villages as are identified by Sirsa district administration.

The district administration, on its part, has already identified chunks of land, around 89 acres, in 9-10 village panchayats where those removed from the Ther mound will be rehabilitated.

The government has also decided that the layout plan and design of the land “shall be as per norms of the Mahatma Gandhi Grameen Basti Yojana” and “the cost of acquiring the land from the Gram panchayats and to provide other basic amenities will be borne by the state government”.


A source in the know of the things told The Indian Express that the tentative cost of constructing each house per family will be around Rs 1.5 lakh and the state government will bear this cost.

The government has also decided that the “eligible occupants will vacate the site under encroachment and demolish any structure” standing thereon. “Upon vacation of the site, government will give grant equivalent to the grant admissible under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Gramin for construction of house on the allotted plot.

In case the allottee contributes own labour for construction of his house, he will also be eligible to receive wages under MGNREGS as per norms of PMAY-Gramin”. The state government will give six months time for construction of the house.


Implementing orders passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2017, the state government had moved 788 families out of the Ther mound and settled them in Sirsa’s Housing Board Colony in Sector 19. The state government claims to have cleared around 31 acres of the protected site’s area,

The rehabilitation plan, now drafted by the state government, will also be applicable to the families already shifted to Housing Board colony. They will have to vacate the flats they had been occupying after they are allotted plots on village panchayat land.

Principal Secretary (Archaeology, Archives and Museum) Ashok Khemka told The Indian Express that the committee’s decision has been approved by the Chief Secretary, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Chief Ninister Manohar Lal Khattar and his deputy Dushyant Chautala.

“The committee’s decision will now have to be put up before the Council of Ministers after which it will be notified. The financial approval to the rehabilitation plan is also lying with the Finance Department, awaiting approval,” he said.

The prospect of clearing the entire 82 acres of the Ther mound has remained an arduous task for the state government.


The mound is believed to hold clues to Sarishika – .a 6th-5th century BC city that fell on the old route to Takshashila and finds mention in the Mahabharata, Panini’s Ashtadhyayi and the Buddhist text Divyavadana.

However, the mound first needs to be cleared of encroachers for the ASI to confirm its historicity. The mound rises 15-18 metres above nearby areas, but there is a dispute over the size of the protected area.


On July 9, 1932, the then Punjab government had issued a notification under Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904, and the then Governor in Council had declared Ther mound a protected monument/site of national importance.

Hearing multiple petitions related to the encroachments on the Ther mound, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in 2017, had directed state government to clear the the entire 82 acres and move the encroachers out of the protected site.

First published on: 11-08-2020 at 12:25:54 pm
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