Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review gauchar land policy: HC to govt

TNN | Aug 9, 2012, 04.34AM IST

AHMEDABAD: The Gujarat high court suggested that the state government review its policy regarding gauchar land and its allocation, and asks it to evolve a "workable and practicable" policy.

The court said so with observation that it should revisit all resolutions passed time to time particularly if the government cannot adhere to its own policy. This suggestion came from the bench of Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J B Pardiwala, which dismissed a PIL filed by villagers from Banaskantha district.

The PIL claimed that the sarpanch of Mahi village had illegally given the nod to the state government to transfer part of village's gauchar land to those displaced by the Mukteshwar Reservoir Project. The petitioners sought cancellation of the allocation on the grounds that the grazing land now left with the village is not enough for the 3,000 cattle it has. A government circular says that there must be 48 acres reserved for every 100 heads of cattle.

The bench dismissed the petition but expressed concern about the sharp increase in public interest litigation over the issues affecting grazing land. "Undoubtedly government has a policy in this regard. However, the question is, to what extent can the government adhere to and follow the norms of the said policy," the court order reads.
The bench further observed that many a time, the government finds difficulties in allotting suitable land other than gauchar land for public purpose. Under such circumstances, other public purpose also could not be permitted to be overlooked. The court was of the opinion that while assessing the adequacy of grazing land; all the cattle in village must not be taken into consideration.

The government's resolution says that useless cattle, or those belonging to professional grazers or professional cattle breeders or commercial dairies or those used for business should not be taken into account for the purpose of maintaining the minimum area of gauchar land, the court said adding that it should review its own resolutions now.

"If the Government can't follow its own policy, it is meaningless to keep such a policy subsisting thereby giving rise to litigations in the nature of public interest. It is high time the state government takes up this issue seriously and evolves a policy which is workable, practical and will protect the interest of one and all," the bench said.
Copyright © 2012 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

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