Doon Tea Gardens Have Fallen Prey To Land Sharks: RTI Activist

| Updated: 07 August, 2022 8:04 am IST
Picture for representative purpose only

DEHRADUN: More than 80 per cent of lush green tea gardens of Dehradun in Uttarakhand have fallen prey to the land sharks of Dehradun, claimed an RTI activist.

Vikesh Negi, Dehradun-based RTI activist and a practising advocate told The New Indian, “More than 80 per cent of the land of the tea estates/gardens of Dehradun have been encroached upon by land sharks. Dubious deals were made right under the gaze of the state government, revenue department and no one did anything.”

Negi has filed a public interest litigation in the matter in Uttarakhand high court alleging that land of the tea gardens is being “sold out by the land mafias with the indulgence of the officers of the State and due to which the State is getting a loss of crores of money, which is against the law and letter of the act.”

The tea gardens came into existence in the city in the 1960s after the Uttar Pradesh Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1960 prohibited land holdings over 12.5 acres by one person, the owners of the land planted tea to save their land from being acquired by the government.

In October 1975, a government order was issued by the then Uttar Pradesh government stating that all sale deeds after October 10, 1975, will be ‘void’.

Following this, in 1996, the Supreme Court of India upheld the government order concerning the sale deeds of tea gardens’ land post-1975.

According to the amendment in the Ceiling Act, the land of the tea gardens cannot be used for any other purposes including agricultural, plantation or any kind of construction.

In the meantime, over 80 per cent of the land of these tea estates in and around Dehradun has been used for residential purposes building colonies and homes.

The Supreme Court in 1996 held that any such land if used for any other purpose will be transferred to and “shall vest in the State Government free from all encumbrances and all rights, title and interest of all persons in such land shall stand extinguished.”

“Initially, we approached the HC for land to the tune of 350 bighas in Raipur Ring Road area which was vested in the state government by the UP Imposition of Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1960 which was sold to some private persons which vary from local to some people of out of the state by the land mafias in collusion with property dealers and with various officers of the state of Uttarakhand,” added Vikesh.

This land belonged to Kunwar Chander Bahadur Singh which was ‘vested in the state government’.

Despite such an order from the Apex Court, the land mafias in collusion with property dealers and with various officers of the state government continued to sell the land.

Such instances have been recorded in many areas in the district where tea garden lands are located including Raipur, Chak and Nathanpur villages.

On July 7, 2022, Uttarakhand HC while hearing the PIL of Negi directed that no sale purchase must take place of the lands which are “earmarked for Tea Plantation”.

“After the court had directed the filing of affidavits within four weeks by the state government authorities, the state authorities have asked those who are suspected of having violated the laws and encroached upon the tea garden lands to submit their documents related to the land till August 5,” added Negi.

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