Despite Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badals claims of being the saviour of village common land (shamlat) in the state,it is Governor Shivraj Patil who has come to its rescue.
In an almost back-door move,the state government reportedly tried to amend the Punjab Village Common Lands Regulation Act,1961 by deleting a vital clause that limited the sale and use of shamlat land in the state. The amendment was proposed to be rushed through as an ordinance and was sent to the Governor for his signatures.
According to sources,the Governor refused to sign on the amendment and referred it back to the government for reconsideration.
The sources said Patil took the decision because the amendment was against the spirit of the said Act.
The Punjab Village Common Lands Regulation Act provides for the protection of shamlat land for use of common purposes of villagers. The Act states that only 50 per cent of shamlat in a village can be leased out or sold by the village for income. The other 50 per cent of the land has to be retained by the village for its own use. However,over the years,this provision has been violated to the point of vulgarity. Shamlat land is being sold in totality, said a revenue officer.