Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Developer stopped from raising structures on 'shamlat', riverbed

Sanjeev Verma, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, May 20, 2012

Hearing a bunch of petitions filed by the Satbgarh gram panchayat of Dera Bassi tehsil in SAS Nagar district challenging illegal possession of "shamlat deh"(village common land) and Ghaggar riverbed, measuring around 98 acres, by Shipra Estates and other private parties, the Punjab and Haryana high court has put stay on possession of land till July.

The decision came from the division bench headed by justice Rajive Bhalla last week while proceeding ex-parte against Shipra Estates as counsel for the developers failed to appear for hearing of the case.

Maximum piece of land under challenge had been purchased by Shipra Estates from villagers for constructing a residential colony in 2007. As the developers had not started construction at the site till date, it had now been restrained by the high court from raising any construction and further sale of land.

Petitioners, including gram panchayat, Sukhwinder Pal and Avtar Singh Nagla, had challenged the orders passed by the director, rural development and panchayats, on May 18, 2011, and orders dated July 25, 2006, by the collector-cum-divisional director, rural development and panchayats, Patiala. The orders, which had given possession of the land in question to the private parties instead of village panchayat, have been stayed by the high court.

During the hearing of case, the bench also observed that "Gair mumkin Ghaggar" (land around riverbed of Ghaggar and not cultivable) had also been sold to the developers.

The bench, while finding the presence of advocate general, Punjab, Ashok Aggarwal in the court questioned him as to what had made the authorities to sell even the "rivers" of the state to developers. To this, the advocate general assured the court of that he would look into the case and apprise it about the facts.

The petitioners had submitted that the private parties had filed a petition in front of the collector-cum-divisional director, rural development and panchayats, Patiala, for declaring them as owners of the land in question stating that they were in possession of the land prior to January 26, 1950, and the authorities passed orders in their favour in 2006 after which the land was sold to Shipra Estates in 2007.

Later, the order was challenged by the gram panchayat of Satbgarh before the director, rural development and panchayats, which was upheld by the director on May 18, 2011.

As per village panchayat, since the sarpanch and panchayat member Naranjan Singh were beneficiaries of this land, they did not pursue the matter properly before the authorities. It was informed that since 1951-52 till date "jamabandies"(revenue records), the land in question is described as "shamlat".

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