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Uttarakhand Election 2022: Land Laws agitation threatens to shift ground under BJP's feet

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Uttarakhand Election 2022: Land Laws agitation threatens to shift ground under BJP's feet

Uttarakhand Election 2022: Land Laws agitation threatens to shift ground under BJP's feet

Amid all political hustle and bustle ahead of the Uttarakhand Assembly elections, one slogan is echoing the loudest in the hills.


"Uttarakhand Maange Bhoo Kanoon", meaning Uttarakhand demands a strict land law.


The slogan has become a rallying call for activists, youths, environmentalists and the opposition camp in the hill state and promises to be one of the key election issues.


Through the last year, Uttarakhand saw massive demonstrations and protests against the liberalisation of the land laws by the BJP government.


The protesters, activists and environmentalists say that Uttarakhand needs strict land laws to safeguard the land, culture, language and the identity of the residents of the state.


So what is the issue and what are the land laws in Uttarakhand.


Soon after the creation of the state in 2000, there were demands for strict legislation with regards to buying and selling of land by outsiders.


2002: Congress govt led by ND Tiwari passed a law restricting non-Uttarakhand residents from buying more than 500 sq metres of land for residential purposes.


2007: BJP govt led by BC Khanduri further reduced the upper cap to 250 sq metres.


People from other states were not allowed to purchase agricultural land in both instances.


2018: CM Trivendra Singh Rawat lifted all restrictions on land purchase in a bid to attract investments in the hilly areas of the state.


The land purchase limit was raised from 12.5 acres to 30 acres for work related to tourism, energy, industry, agriculture, and horticulture.


In some cases, people were allowed to purchase above 30 acres of land in the state as well.


Rather than taking permission at the state level, purchasers were allowed to seek approval at the district level.


The state government claimed this would attract investment and bring employment opportunities to the local people.


But the move caused much resentment in the state’s population and predictably has become an election issue.


The opposition Congress has promised to bring back the curbs if voted to power.


In Uttarakhand, only 9% of the land is agricultural land.


Over 70% of the state's area is forest land.


There has been a demand to bring in strong legislation like the one in Himachal Pradesh. Since 1971, it is impossible to trade in agricultural land in the state.


According to section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972, agricultural land cannot be sold to be used for non-agricultural uses.

Also, no non-Himachali person can buy land in the state, though he or she can rent land for commercial purposes.

Will the land laws protests shrink the ground under BJP's feet in the hill state is to be seen...

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