December 30, 2023
Uttarakhand CM Initiates Examination of 2022 Land Law Committee Report
Overview of the Issue
- Several social groups in Dehradun recently rallied for stricter land laws to curb extensive land sales to “outsiders” and to increase the residency duration required for non-Uttarakhand residents to attain domicile certificates. This demand arises from concerns about the erosion of local identity due to easy acquisition of land by non-residents.
- In 2003, CM ND Tiwari initiated restrictions on land purchases by non-Uttarakhand residents, limiting it to 500 square meters to safeguard local identity while attracting external investments. Subsequently, under BC Khanduri’s BJP-led government, this limit was further reduced to 250 square meters.
- Troubles emerged in 2017 when then CM Trivendra Rawat lifted these restrictions, aiming to boost investments in the hills. This move led to discontent among locals, resulting in a demand for reinstating strict regulations to protect culture and identity—advocating for a 250 square meter cap in municipal areas and a complete rural land sales ban.
- To address these concerns, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami formed a panel led by ex-chief secretary Subhash Kumar, which submitted a report containing 23 recommendations:
- Government Approval for Land Purchase: Proposed shifting approval authority for farmland purchases from district magistrates to the government.
- Introduction of ‘Essentiality Certificate’: Similar to Himachal Pradesh’s practice, a certificate verifying the necessity of land purchase for non-agriculturists or non-residents was suggested.
- Action Against Illegal Construction: Recommendations included strict measures against illegal structures on rivers, forests, pastures, and public lands, alongside a state-wide campaign against illegal land possession.
- Despite Dhami’s commitment to implementing the new land law in August 2023, the recommendations are pending implementation. Instead, a five-member committee has been formed to conduct an in-depth study of the panel’s report.
- This move follows the rally’s pressure and showcases the government’s intent to address concerns regarding land acquisition by non-residents, preserving Uttarakhand’s cultural integrity.