The Manohar Lal Khattar Government in Haryana on Wednesday got the contentious Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill 2019 passed in the State Assembly, amid sloganeering and walkout by the opposition.
The Bill, which essentially allows construction and other activities in areas where it was previously disallowed due to the enforcement of the 119-year old PLPA, was passed after the State Government rejected the demand of opposition to send it to an all-party committee of the State Assembly for greater scrutiny.
It was among the 18 Bills passed by the State Assembly, most of them in absence of the entire opposition, on the last day of budget session of Haryana Vidhan Sabha.
The opposition –Indian National Lok Dal and Congress—objected to the amendment in PLPA claiming that it will endanger the ecologically fragile Aravallis and other forest areas in the state and will open up Aravallis for real estate development while the State Government argued that the amendment is necessary in public interest and to strike a balance in regulating environment and development.
The amendments have been made with retrospective effect from 1966, meaning anything done after that will become null and void. The amendment involves excluding tracts of land included in the final development plans, any other town improvement plans from the ambit of the PLPA. The land that is the part of any infrastructure like railways, roads, canals, government or public establishments will also go out of the purview of PLPA now.
The amendment has granted legitimacy to Kant Enclave, Faridabad nestled in the Aravalli Hills and built on PLPA notified land, which was ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court last year.
Notably, residents, conservationists, environmental activists from the region had been protesting against the amendments in PLPA claiming that it will destroy the forest areas in Gurugram and Faridabad districts, which were under protection due to PLPA, 1900. The state has a forest cover of around 3.58 per cent only.
Launching a scathing attack on the State Government for amending PLPA, Congress legislature party (CLP) leader Kiran Choudhry said this is an anti-environment bill which will lead to tampering of Aravallis and other forest areas of the state.
The PLPA protects the Aravallis from construction and other activities but by bringing such amendments, the government is opening the entire Aravali area for the real estate business, she alleged while taking part in the discussion on the bill in the House.
Stating that not only the southern Haryana but the entire state will be adversely affected due to this, the Congress leader demanded that the bill should be withdrawn.
INLD’s legislator Parminder Singh Dhull accused the State Government of amending the Act for the benefit of mining mafia.
Questioning government’s intent to amend the Act, retrospective effect from 1966, the INLD leader asked, “What is the need of this? This will be challenged in the Court as the government’s move will adversely affect the ecosystem.”
This bill should be withdrawn and sent to an all-party committee of the State Government to examine objections of the members, he demanded.
Terming it as a “Black Bill”, Congress’ Karan Dalal said that the government is hiding its true intentions for bringing the amendment in PLPA.
“If you want to save Kant Enclave from demolition, we have no objection. But in the name of protecting Kant Enclave, this government is destroying the forest areas of the state. This is the biggest scam of this government as they have sold the forest land to the builders,” Dalal alleged.
Following this, Congress legislators Raghubir Singh Kadian and Lalit Nagar also demanded withdrawal of the bill.
Strongly defending the bill after around 45-minute discussion, Chief Minister Manohar Lal said, “Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019 is in the interest of the people of the state and the provisions made in the Bill would help address various concerns effectively.
He said, “The orders and notifications issued under section 4 or section 5 of PLPA extend over an area of about 10,94,543 hectares accounting roughly for about 25 per cent of the total geographical area of the state. Notifications extend to the geographical area, wholly or partly, of 14 out of 22 districts and almost the entire districts of Gurugram, Rewari and Mahendergarh are covered under PLPA.”
Citing the example of Kant Enclave, Manohar Lal said, “Lakhs of dwelling units, commercial buildings, industrial units, public buildings and massive public infrastructure and agriculture activities over about one fourth of the geographical area of the state are affected due to provisions of PLPA. We have faced difficulties due to the orders of Supreme Court, High Court and NGT in this regard.”
Targeting previous governments in Haryana, he said that 1500 licences were given for projects in the past. There should have been some check while issuing licences, he said.
He added, “The amendments are required as the PLPA does not have any provision to rectify, amend or de-notify the orders and notifications issued under the Act even where the same have been found to have inherent defects, mistakes or where certain lands have been inadvertently included or found to have been issued in violation of the prescribed procedure.”
Soon after, former Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh asked Manohar Lal to send the bill to a joint legislative committee and get it examined.
Retorting, Manohar Lal said, “The government is working with right intent and I do not need to prove my integrity. We will make amendment wherever it is required in the interests of people.”
If you do not want to understand, I cannot do anything, the Chief Minister told the opposition legislators.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ram Bilas Sharma and Finance Minister Capt. Abhimanyu too hit back at the Congress legislators asking them to raise objection on clauses of the bill, if any and refrain from leveling baseless allegations.
After this, the Congress MLAs trooped into the Well of the House and pleaded with the Speaker Kanwar Pal Gujjar to withdraw the bill. 3 MLAs of the INLD, who were present during the discussion, left the House while the Congress legislators started shouting slogans, “Haryana Sarkar Murdabad” against the ruling BJP.
After sloganeering, the Congress legislators finally staged a walkout even as the Bill was passed amid the din.
Guest teachers regularized
Ahead of ensuing Lok Sabha polls, Haryana Government on Wednesday passed the 'Haryana Guest Teacher Service Bill, 2019', paving the way for regularization of guest teachers in the state.
The decision will benefit around 14000 guest teachers in the state.
‘Haryana Guest Teacher Service Bill, 2019’ moved by Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma was passed unanimously by the House.
Sharma said, “Although these guest teachers were appointed by the Congress Government, yet the present government has passed the Bill in favour of these teachers without any discrimination.
With this, we have fulfilled our poll promise made in 2014, the Minister said in the House.
He said that during the tenure of Congress Government in 2014, about 22,000 guest teachers were appointed including JBT, TGT and PGT teachers.
Total of 18 bills passed
On the concluding day of budget session, Haryana Vidhan Sabha on Tuesday passed 18 bills.
Most of the bills were passed in the absence of entire opposition.
At one point of time, only INLD’s Naseem Ahmad was present in the House while the other opposition benches were vacant. Similarly, Congress’ Karan Dalal was also present alone for sometime in the House as the ruling party hurriedly passed the bills.
The State Assembly passed the Haryana Municipal Entertainment Duty Bill, 2019 to provide for the levy of entertainment duty in respect of admission to public entertainments while Haryana Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Adoption (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed to amend the Haryana Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Adoption Act, 2018.
Haryana Animal (Registration, Certification and Breeding) Bill, 2019 was passed for welfare and genetic improvement of animals by regulating animal breeding activities including use of breeding animals for production, processing, storage, sale and distribution of animal semen and embryos by way of artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, embryo transfer technology etc. by registration and certification of animals and to prevent victimization of the owners of the animals by way of unregulated breeding activity in the state.
The Assembly also passed Haryana Legislative Assembly (Facilities to Members) Amendment Bill, 2019. On the request of some members, an amendment in Section 3 of the Act was proposed to be made to allow them to avail the facility of house building advance for a third time.
Haryana Legislative Assembly (Salary, Allowances and Pension of Members) Amendment Bill, 2019 was passed to allow the facility of free journey in State Transport Department buses including Volvo Buses, one attendant with an ex-MLA of 60 years or more.
Among other bills passed included Haryana Appropriation (No. 1) Bill 2019, Electricity (Haryana Amendment) Bill 2019, Haryana Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill 2019, Punjab Courts (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019, Haryana Accountability of Public Finances Bill, 2019, Punjab Labour Welfare Fund (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019, Haryana Management of Civic Amenities and Infrastructure Deficient Municipal Areas (Special Provisions) Amendment Bill, 2019.