Thursday, June 28, 2012
Soon, new policy to bar allotment of pastoral land to industries
KapilDave : Gandhinagar, Mon Jun 25 2012, 04:14 hrs
Following the Supreme Court’s order in January 2011, the state government is expected to announce the long overdue Gochar Land Policy which prohibits the allotment of pastoral (gochar) land of villages for industrial or commercial purposes.
The new Gochar Land Policy draft, prepared by the state revenue department which was pending approval from the state lawyers in the Supreme Court and the state legal department, has now been approved.
“The final policy draft of the new Gochar Land Policy was stuck due to ambiguities concerning the legal interpretation of the Supreme Court order. A Ministerial committee formed for deciding the various aspects of this policy in accordance with the SC order has cleared the draft. The final report has been sent for the approval of the Chief Minister. It is expected to be cleared within a week to ten days time,” said a senior revenue department official .
“As per the new policy, no new gochar land will be given for industrial or commercial purpose. It will be given only in the case of a very high public interest or in cases where commercial interests are getting affected if a small pocket of gochar land is between a large piece of land, the officer added.
The officer further informed that the order was very clear that the pastoral land is strictly for community use and that resources belonging to the village community shall not be given for any industrial or commercial use. However, the land could be used for building healthcare centers and schools which are for the “larger public good”.
Another issue according to the official is that, some pastoral land have now come within urban areas. The land cannot be classified as pastoral land under this new policy and will therefore be used for public utilities.
Over the years the state government had sold thousands of hectares of gochar land to private industries.
This new policy was initiated following the Supreme Court order in the case of Jagpal Singh & others vs State of Punjab & others regarding the industrial and commercial use of public resources like pastoral land, waste land, ponds etc. against the interest of the local community.
As against the 39.56 lakh hectare of grazing land required as per the state government’s own standards for cattle, the state has only an estimated 8.5 lakh hectare.
The state therefore has a massive deficit, and according to the state government’s data atleast 424 villages in the state have no pastoral land. Encroachment over pastoral land is also becoming a serious problem in the state. According to Gujarat government’s data, 50,771 encroachments in around 16,000 villages were reported as of September 2010. Out of which 36960 encroachments are more than five years old.