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Thursday, December 02, 2021

Explained: What is the Punjab Land Preservation Act of 1900, and how was it tweaked?

Environmentalists feel the latest move by the government has exposed thousands of acres land falling on the hills and foothills of Aravallis, which cover over 26,000 acres in Gurgaon and Faridabad districts, to mining and real estate development.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 16, 2021 1:20:15 pm
At a mining site in Mohali (Express photo by Jaipal Singh/File)

The Punjab Land Preservation Act was enacted by the then government of Punjab in 1900. It provided for the conservation of subsoil water and/or prevention of erosion in areas found to be subject to erosion or likely to become liable to erosion.

According to the government’s proposal and the Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019, several changes have been proposed but the opposition has objection mainly on the provisions of Section 3 of the PLPA. Section 3 explains government’s powers to bring any area ‘subject to erosion or likely to become liable to erosion’ under the ambit of the PLPA through a notification.

After Section 3 of the principal Act, the government has inserted Section 3A into the Bill to exclude certain areas from the ambit of the Act.

The opposition parties in Haryana raised major objections over insertion of 3A.

“Under its provisions, the PLPA won’t apply to ‘the lands included in the final development plans, any other town improvement plans or schemes’ published under the provisions of many laws like Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, 1994, the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority Act, 2017, the Faridabad Metropolitan Development Authority Act, 2018, the Faridabad Complex (regulation and development) Act, 1971 and the Haryana Development and Regulation or Urban Areas Act, 1975,” Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh Hooda said.

Environmentalists feel that the latest move by the government has exposed thousands of acres land falling on the hills and foothills of Aravallis, which cover over 26,000 acres in Gurgaon and Faridabad districts, to mining and real estate development. They feel that under original PLPA, the tilling or digging of the land was not allowed but the amendments will permit constructions activities.

Environmental activist Chetan Agarwal says that the entire area of Aravallis in Gurgaon and Faridabad falls under the ‘final development plans’, which has been now inserted into the Bill.

“Because of provisions of the PLPA, the constructions were not allowed on the hills and foothills of the Aravallis. But now there won’t be any such protection. In fact, this move will benefit those people who have bought land at the rate of Rs 2 lakh per acre near Aravallis but now the price of this land may jump to Rs 10 crore per acre. Major problem is not the existing constructions but the buildings which may come up now,” says Agarwal.

Congress MLA and former minister Karan Singh Dalal had earlier pointed out “grey areas in the newly inserted Section 3C which can be misused”.

This section has excluded the “land which has been under bona-fide agriculture use” from the ambit of the Act.

The government has clarified that the “land recorded in the relevant revenue records as being used for the time being for agriculture uses shall be deemed to be land under bona-fide agriculture use for the purpose of this clause”.

Dalal, who has termed the Bill as “Kala Kanoon” in the Assembly, says that under the provisions of section 3C, construction activities will be launched in certain pockets of the land ‘terming them farm houses on agriculture land’.

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