M A I N   N E W S

Himachal bends backward for Ramdev’s babadom
Allotted 19 acres for Rs 17 lakh, thanks to the BJP govt’s largesse
Rakesh Lohumi /TNS

Shimla, June 8
With 96 bighas of prime land (1 bigha in Himachal Pradesh is equal to .2 acres. and 96 bighas is around 19.2 acres) in village Sadhupul on the Kandaghat-Chail road given on lease for 99 years for just Rs 17,31,214 to the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust, Swami Ramdev has indeed benefited from the largesse of the BJP government.

Work in progress at Sadhupul village in Solan district where Patanjali Yogpeeth is coming up.
Work in progress at Sadhupul village in Solan district where Patanjali Yogpeeth is coming up. Photo: Amit Kanwar

Originally a transit resort of the Maharaja of Patiala spread over 127 bighas, the land was gifted by Maharaja Yadavindra Singh to the Punjab Government, specifically for the benefit of children. It became a part of Himachal when the hill areas of Punjab were merged in the state in 1966. The property was held by a non-government organisation called Indira Holiday Home until recently before the state government got it back after a protracted legal battle. The government decided to give 96 bighas of the land to the Patanjali Yogpeeth for setting up a centre to promote yoga, medical research, health tourism and propagation of herbal plants. The lease deed was signed on February 2 last year.

While the former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, whose family owned the land, alleges that land worth Rs 20 crore had been virtually given for a song. The state unit of the Congress also raised a hue an cry when the land was leased out. The PCC chief Kaul Singh asserts that on coming to power, the party will review the decision. However, state’s Health Minister, Rajiv Bindal, who was instrumental in bringing the Patanjali Yogpeeth to Sadhupul, maintains that there was nothing wrong in giving land to an organisation which had actively promoting yoga and ayurveda and generated health awareness. According to him, it was the policy of the BJP government to teach yoga in place of sex education started by the previous Congress regime. The government also wanted to promote he Indian system of medicine in a big way and encourage cultivation of medicinal plants on a large scale to make Himachal Pradesh the herbal state of the country.

Out of the 96 bighas given to Ramdev, only 30 bighas was flat land and the rest of the land was steep hill slopes. The one-time lease money was worked out after a 100 per cent increase in the valuation of land carried out by the deputy commissioner.

To implement its policy effectively, the state needed a “Centre of Excellence” to carry out the research and extension activities in ayurveda. Patanjali Yogapeeth was undoubtedly the best in the country. The government approached Swami Ramdev and he agreed to set up a centre on the lines of the one at Haridwar, Bindal explained. It was an achievement for the government as once the Centre became operational, the hill state would be on the world health tourism map since people were switching over from modern medicine to yoga, ayurveda and naturopathy, Bindal added.

The proposed Yogpeeth will initiate herbal research, teaching and training in the field of yoga and ayurveda and collection, research, production and marketing of herbs and medicinal plants. With an initial investment of Rs 50 crore, it is expected to provide employment to about 1,000 local people, directly or indirectly.

The government has forged a long-term alliance by signing memorandums of understanding for the sale and marketing of herbs and apple juice concentrate. Twelve medicinal plant were to be purchased. For this, minimum rates have been fixed. The MoU was signed more than 18 months ago but so far no herbs have been procured from the farmers.

An MoU was also signed between Patanjali Ayurveda Ltd, Haridwar and Himachal Pradesh Horticulture Produce Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC), under which the former was to purchase a minimum 350 tonne and a maximum 700 tonne of apple juice concentrate per annum from the latter at Rs 72 per kg and Rs 75 per kg. So far 230 tonne of AJC has been lifted by the PAL and the HPMC does not have any more stocks to offer. 





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