Shimla: Controversy over Central University has taken a center stage in the state Politics. Revenue Minister Mahender Singh Thakur, in his press statement, indicated that clarification needed from the Ministry of Forest and Environment to go ahead with the construction work at the allotted site.
Revenue Minister stated that the Union Government had given approval for setting up two campuses of the Central University Dharamshala, which includes the northern campus Jadarangal in Tehsil Dharamshala and the southern campus in Dehra. And the state government had transferred 34.55 hectares of government land in 2010 to the Central University of Himachal Pradesh for the construction of the southern campus Dehra, the mutation of which was done in 2010. Apart from this, the approval to divert 81.79 hectares of forest land under the Forest Conservation Act was received on December 11, 2018, in the name of User Agency Director Higher Education, Himachal Pradesh, but this included the condition that the land which has been granted permission to convert cannot be transferred in any case to another agency, department or any other person without the approval of the Central Government. There will be no change in the legal status of such diverted forest land, minister further added.
Thakur stated that on the request of Department of Revenue for this matter and some other matters, the Forest Department had requested the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of India, on 22 April, 2019 for the necessary clarification, whether the diverted forest land agency may or may not be transferred to user agency through mutation mode. The Revenue Department had also urged the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of India, whether the documents for possession of the converted forest land can be entered in the revenue records or not.
On this, the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment, through a letter on July 30, 2019, had clarified that the legal status of the forest land that is diverted under the Forest Protection Act 1980 will remain as forest land only. Such diverted land arrangement, the name of the user agency or user department cannot be transferred by the revenue department in the revenue records.
According to the clarification of the Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of India, in the matter of Central University of Dharamshala as well as in 30 other cases, the forest land has not yet been given to the concerned user agency.
He said that the State Government is taking necessary steps for getting approval for the establishment of Central University and all other developmental projects by taking action under the Forest Conservation Act 1980, but in view of the clarification of the Ministry of Forest and Environment, the Central University and the works of many other important projects are getting delayed.
The Revenue Minister claimed that the State Government has taken prompt action in converting forest land for the Central University under the Forest Conservation Act 1980. Necessary approval for this was also issued on December 11, 2018 and under Green Cover Plan, Rs. Five crore 60 lakh was deposited in Campa Head in November 2018. This amount was in addition to the previously deposited amount of Rs. 17 crore 27 lakh 53 thousand.
The Revenue Minister said that the State Government has taken up the matter with the Ministry of Forest and Environment Government of India to reconsider the situation arising in this regard. He urged the Union Minister of State for Finance, Ministry of Forest and Environment, Government of India to redress these technical issues so that the construction work of Central University and the pending works of about 30 other projects could be started and the pace of development could be accelerated.
Anurag Thakur, Hamirpur MP, while addressing public rally at Jaswan Pragpur, had blamed state for delaying the project and advised the state govt to expedite the work.
Even, former Chief Minister and veteran politician Virbhadra Singh taken a jibe in the BJP and accused it for playing politics over the Central University.