Elected govt. to form J&K land laws

Central laws on land acquisition and compensation will be applicable: officials

September 08, 2019 10:12 pm | Updated 10:12 pm IST - New Delhi

Security personnel checking people during restrictions in Srinagar on Sunday.

Security personnel checking people during restrictions in Srinagar on Sunday.

The Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir would decide its own land policy once its elected, a senior government official said on Sunday. The elected representatives could decide on the land use and categorise it as agricultural, commercial, educational and so on, he added. The new Union Territory will come into being on October 31.

After the special status of the State under Article 370 of the Constitution was revoked on August 6 by Parliament, residents from the Kashmir Valley and the Jammu region expressed concern and demanded protection for their land, culture and tradition.

About a month later, the J&K administration released an advertisement on September 4, saying “the application of Article 370 and 35A placed restrictions on transfer of land... As a result, private investment in development work was severely constrained.”

‘53 industrial estates’

But according to data available on the government’s portal, Invest India, J&K is home to “about 53 industrial estates and 32,226 small-scale industrial units with an investment of over $793 million.”

According to the website State Industrial Development Corporation, there are 23 industrial units in J&K.

Senior Congress leader and former ruler of the State Karan Singh said the Valley was ecologically fragile and he hoped that development would improve after law and order was improved.

“We shouldn’t throw it (land in J&K) open to land sharks; we have to safeguard it, whether you do it through 370 or some other rule. Himachal doesn’t have 370 but they safeguard their land... 370 was not a hindrance to acquiring land. We do not want polluting industries, the whole atmosphere of Valley would be destroyed,” Mr. Singh told The Hindu .

The senior Congress leader had earlier said there were several positives in the government’s decision to withdraw Article 370 and Article 35A and bifurcate the State into Union Territories.

On the issue of law and order, Mr. Singh said, “All big industries had pulled out from West Bengal because of Naxalite problem, so law and order is a factor but not only particular to J&K.”

Central law on land

A senior government official said J&K had its own land acquisition Act enacted in 1935 and with the revocation of the special status, the Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, will be applicable to the Union Territory.

“The Central Land Act will ensure four times compensation than the 1935 Act,” said the official.

Another official said private land could also be acquired through the Central Land Acquisition Act.

Home Minister Amit Shah had told a delegation from J&K last week that “only government land would be used to establish industries, hospitals and educational institutions” and “nobody's land would be taken away”.

The first investor summit planned by the Centre in J&K from October 12 to 14 in Srinagar and Jammu has been postponed by a month as severe restrictions on movement and communication continue in the State. Only landline phones are functional in the Kashmir Valley, while in the Jammu region, mobile connectivity has been restored. The Internet can be only accessed through kiosks set up by the government in Srinagar and in Jammu, Internet services are available through broadband connections.

A representative of a trade body said laws were never a hindrance in investing in the State. “Most factories and industrial parks are in the Jammu region; companies do not want to invest in the Valley due to militancy and law and order problems there,” the representative said.

According to the J&K industrial policy of 2004, the government could “allot land on a long lease of 90 years in the industrial estates and developed areas on first come, first served basis.” “In case of large area requirements, land may be acquired in specific locations and allotted on lease,” the policy said.

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