The Himachal Pradesh Land Holdings Cap Act 1972 (Act No. 19 of 1973) was enacted to cap large land holdings. However, for the purpose of promoting the tea industry in the state, the lands under the tea estate have been exempted from the operation of the law under paragraph (g) of section 5 of this law. . The bill aims to remove clauses that allowed the sale of land under tea gardens.
The bill was introduced in the Assembly last year, but was returned to the select committee following protests from opposition parties.
After the committee’s approval, Revenue Minister Mahender Singh Thakur introduced the bill during the budget session, however, Congressman Ashish Butail raised objections, pointing out that small tea gardens had been excluded from this amendment.
He also said that the permitted limit given by the state government in Section 4 for the sale of tea gardens should also be granted to large gardens. Butail also said that change of ownership was not mentioned in the bill and asked for a provision for transfer to blood relationship. He said that a way out must be found to solve the problem of the transfer of the lands which were sold earlier. He also said the case was pending before the Supreme Court, so a decision should not be made on it now.
In response to this, the Revenue Minister said those who own less than 150 bighas of tea gardens will not face any new restrictions. He said there were 8,474 such gardens in Kangra and 838 small gardens in Mandi. While the number of large tea gardens is small, there is a need to prevent their land from being sold under this law, he added.
He said the government does not take away the rights of those who had large tea gardens before January 1971, but the government wants them to develop the tea gardens. He pointed out that so far more than 2000 bighas of tea garden land has been sold or transferred and large hotels and shopping malls have been built there.
Later, the House passed the bill by voice vote. The aims and purposes of the bill stated that it has been observed that land under tea plantations in the hills state has invariably been used for purposes other than tea plantation or has been transferred by way of sale , etc., by resorting to these provisions which is against the spirit and intent of the legislation and it is necessary to discourage change of land use and transfer of land under the tea estate by way of sale, etc
In the event of such violations, the provisions of the law relating to the devolution of land to the government, free from all encumbrances, shall come into effect.