Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, March 17
Though many farmers have on their own reclaimed portions of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal land, they would not get back ownership till the Punjab SYL Canal Land (Return of Proprietary Rights) Bill becomes a law and is notified by the state government.
The ownership is a long-drawn-out process, which starts with the passing of the notification of the Bill. After that, the revenue records would have to be updated, for which the land would be recorded afresh in the name of the person(s) who owned it at the time of its acquisition around 35 years ago.
The Bill has just crossed the first hurdle with its passage in the state Assembly. The next step is the Punjab Governor’s assent to the Bill. This appears to be a Herculean task as Kaptan Singh Solanki is also the Governor of Haryana, which is opposing the Bill tooth and nail.
After the Governor’s nod, the government will have to issue the notification to enforce the Act.
The ownership of the land at this stage is vested with the state government. The possession of the land in the revenue records is with the Department of Irrigation. Revenue and irrigation officials say that in view of the status quo on the canal land ordered by the Supreme Court today, the portion already filled with sand can’t be touched.
For transferring the ownership from the government to the original owners from whom the land was acquired about three decades ago, the Revenue Department would have to follow the due process of law, which included the mutation of land in the name of original owners etc. After the completion of the mutation process, the entry of ownership will be made in the name of original owners in the revenue records (‘jamabandi’).
Following the Supreme Court order on maintaining status quo over the canal land, the ownership process would be further delayed. Moreover, the SC has made the Punjab Chief Minister and the Director General of Police as the Receivers of the Land. This means that the land is in their custody now and they are its managers, revenue officials said.
Interestingly, the return of the land to over 5,000 farmers would ‘revive’ many dead persons as owners of the pieces of land.
Revenue officials said the persons who owned it at the time of acquisition would still be the owners, whether alive or dead. The heirs would have to prove their claim via a succession certificate.
No action on forest plunder
Though the Forest Department has complained to the Deputy Commissioners concerned for the registration of a case over the plunder of forest areas, no action has been taken so far. Government officials were not willing to be quoted on the issue as the whole exercise had the government’s backing.
With retrospective effect from January 1, 2016
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