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    Uttarakhand HC bans use of agricultural land for group housing societies

    agricultural land

    The division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh in the order dated June 19, a copy of which was made available on Wednesday, observed, “The state government has not taken any action till date to check the mushrooming of unregulated societies throughout Uttarakhand. The colonizers and societies have flouted every norm while raising the construction. This is required to be checked at the earliest considering that there is acute shortage of farming land in the. state.”

    The judges added in the order that “the ban on agricultural land for construction of housing complexes will not apply to a farmer who wants to build a house for himself.”

    The court’s directions came while hearing a matter pertaining to carving out of commercial plots from agricultural land, including the illicit felling of trees in the area falling under the Doon Special Area Development Authority (SADA) near Herbertpur, Vikas Nagar in Dehradun district. The HC directed the state government to constitute a special investigation team headed by an inspector general rank officer to investigate the matter. The court also asked the police to file FIRs against the officials in whose tenure large- scale unauthorised construction was raised and illicit felling of trees took place.

    Adding that officials who had allowed the unaurhorised construction as well as felling of trees are required to be brought to justice, the judges said, “The statutory authority has only informed the agriculture department and forest department about the illicit felling of trees and thereafter not taken any action. It is a case where the buck has been passed from ‘A’ to ‘B’. Nobody has shouldered the responsibility.”

    The judges further remarked that it is not possible to raise illegal construction without the connivance / collusion of the officials of the Special Area Development Authority. “The officials of SADA were remiss to discharge their statutory duties. They were authorised to stop the development under Section 26 of the U P Special Area Development Authorities Act, 1986. It was not expected from the authorities to keep on issuing notices only.”

    The judges also said they were “aghast at the orders passed by the civil court granting injunction to the persons who have raised unauthorized construction.” “The civil courts have exceeded their jurisdiction by granting stays against the demolition orders,” the bench said.

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