Chandigarh, Feb 27 (IANS) Despite the opposition parties alleging that the BJP government in Haryana was trying to favour private builders and land sharks, the Haryana Assembly on Wednesday passed the controversial Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The new Bill has been passed to amend the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA),1900, in its application to the state of Haryana.
Once cleared, the Bill will open up thousands of acres to real estate and other non-forest activity that were protected under the earlier Act for the past 119 years (since year 1900).
Opposition Indian National Lok Dal (INLD) and Congress legislators alleged that the Bill had been passed by Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar’s government to favour private builders and the mining mafia. They demanded that the government should withdraw the Bill and that it should be examined by a House committee.
Opposition leaders alleged that forest cover was depleting in the state and the amendment will allow construction even in areas where it was banned under the earlier Act.
The opposition staged a walkout over the issue as the treasury benches went ahead with the passing of the Bill.
The BJP itself has been accusing previous Congress and INLD governments in Haryana of massive corruption in land dealings.
Khattar defended the move to bring in the Bill saying that it was as per the requirements of the present. He said that the earlier Act was very old and its provisions needed a change.
Opposition legislators said that the ecologically fragile Aravali region in southern Haryana in Gurugram and Faridabad districts, adjoining the national capital, would be the worst affected by the enabling provisions of the new Bill.
The Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, was enacted by the then Governor of Punjab. The Act provides 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.
“The intent behind the PLPA and its area of jurisdiction has evolved over a period of time. The first major amendment of immediate relevance was carried out in 1926 (Punjab Act VII of 1926) whereby it was clarified that the provisions of the Act never intended to extinguish the ownership rights of the people. Through the said amendment, from the existing expression ‘temporarily or permanently’ as appearing in section 4 and section 5 of PLPA, the expression ‘or permanently’, was omitted. This amendment is in conformity with the constitutional right granted under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India,” a Haryana government spokesperson said, justifying the amendment.