The opposition BJP has again targeted state government over section 118 of HP Land and Tenancy Act, and accused Virbhadra Singh Government for amending it to facilitate to industrialists.

In a press statement, BJP state spokesperson Ganesh Dutt has questioned the need of seventh amendment in the section. Dutt said that the Congress had misled the people of the state on section 118.

However, on the other-side, the state government has claimed that the opposition was making unnecessary furore on amendment of section of 118 of HP Land and Tenancy Act.

In an official press release, a government spokesman claimed that no such amendment has been made by the State Government in section 118 rather a draft notification has been issued on 1st July 2104 to carry out amendment in Rule 38-A of the said Act, wherein suggestion and objections have been called for from the general public regarding the procedure and eligibility criteria for non–agriculturalists to purchase the land in the State.

He said that the rules framed in the year 2011 were not at all clear about the section 118 of HP Land and Tenancy Act, in which, a clause of ‘other eminent person’ was incorporated in the rules for purchasing the land without clearly distinguishing what ‘other eminent person’ meant as it was nowhere defined in the rules or in the Act.

The second clause included therein during the previous Government was regarding eligibility criteria to purchase land above 150 Square meters only, which was again discriminatory as it was only for few rich and economically well- off people. These rules did not favour those who wanted to do small business with limited source of income and were devoid of purchasing land in the State.

He said that the Government was allotting 2/3 biswas to weaker sections of the society for construction of residential houses and if a poor person intends to purchase land below 150 square meters he could not do so because of the intricacies of rules which existed earlier.

He said that the rules which were now being slightly amended were to simplify the procedure for the purchase of land and promote industrialization in the State. Suggestions were being invited from the people pertaining to purchase of land by non-agriculturalist and eligibility criteria thereof. If any one wants to give some inputs in favour of welfare of the people of the State or measures for growth of States economy, his or her suggestions were welcome.

He said that the amendment in Rule 38 of section 118 was imperative to remove discriminatory provisions and simplify the process of land purchase for industrial development in the State which would lead to more employment generation and help strengthening the economy of the State. However, the amendments will be finalized only after taking into consideration each and every suggestion or objection received from the general public, said he. The amendment proposed in the Rules is a demonstration of Government commitment to responsive and transparent governance. Moreover, inviting suggestions from the public shows the commitment of the Government towards participatory democracy and transparency.

Earlier, former Chief Minister and Leader of Opposition Prem Kumar Dhumal and CPM have raised apprehension on amending the section 118 and asked Congress led State Government to clarify this whole issue.