Himachal resorts, hydro projects may have to surrender encroached land

Hydro-power projects, private universities and tourist resorts that received sanction during the BJP regime and that are found to have encroached on land beyond the approved limit may now be asked to surrender the surplus land. Highly places sources said the Himachal government has asked all its deputy commissioners to send complete details of the sanctioned land for these new projects along with their findings over whether the promoters have exanded their property beyond the sanctioned limits.

"We have not only sent a communication to the deputy commissioners but have also asked divisional commissioners at Shimla, Mandi and Kangra (Dharamshala) to verify details of the land sanctioned by the state's revenue department and additional land in possession of the promoters," a senior government functionary said.

A divisional commissioner confirmed that he had already held a meeting with the deputy commissioners and directed them to expedite the matter and provide an authentic account of the land taken over by the companies executing hydel projects, private universities and tourist resorts.

"Some deputy commissioners have already collected the details and sent it to the government. A few have been given fresh reminders. Another meeting has been convened on December 23 to ensure that details are compiled and sent to the government," an IAS officer said.

There have been serious charges that power companies have taken over prime land in excess of their requirements. Leading hydro-power firm - Jaypee group - had been in the midst of a row after having raised orchards and constructed buildings at surplus land at the site of the Karcham Wangtoo hydel project.

Major violations have also been reported in Solan, where a large number of private universities have mushroomed, with a few of them raising multi-storey complexes and having acquired agricultural land without necessary approval. A private university on the national highway, now also enjoying the protection of Congress politicians, has proposed to build a resort on surplus benami land close to its campus.

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