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Evict land grabbers

Highlights

Any land regularisation policy should not incentivise land grabbers in the name of protecting the poor. The government should have a clear and discriminatory approach in this regard. The poor and the land grabbers cannot be rewarded with same legal immunity

Any land regularisation policy should not incentivise land grabbers in the name of protecting the poor. The government should have a clear and discriminatory approach in this regard. The poor and the land grabbers cannot be rewarded with same legal immunity

The all-party meeting, convened by the Telangana government, saw a consensus on the regularisation of government lands occupied by the poor. With the cost of land market growing, land grabbing has become a booming sector. Before taking any policy action on the lands already occupied, the government should first come out with a comprehensive policy on preventing further land encroachment. The land records should be updated and modernised and made transparent. The citizens should be freed from the scourge of multiple registrations, fake title deeds etc.

All vacant government lands should be fenced and handed over to the land corporation, specially set up for the purpose. The government can start a special purpose vehicle, if necessary, to commercially develop these lands so as to reap revenue. Yet another idea can be converting this land bank into urban horticulture project. Special horticultural groups of poor families can be formed to undertake this activity. Such an innovation would provide multiple advantages. To begin with, it would protect government land. It would enliven the city environment besides, providing fresh and cheap vegetables to the city populace. A land use policy should be prepared with a futuristic vision, taking into cognizance the public and social needs of the state capital.

A large number of poor and underprivileged throng the city in search of livelihood. The city population needs this poor for providing many services to them. In the absence of proper social housing policies, these helpless people started living in mushrooming slums. Many of them occupied government lands to have a roof over them. Though this is also illegal in the strict sense of the term, it deserves sympathetic view. As justice VR Krishna Iyer pointed out in a judgment, what is illegitimate can also be justifiable. But, the decades of experience with such GOs reveal that such provisions are often used by land grabbers with political connections to legitimize their illegal acts. Regularization of land grabbed by land mafia under any pretext would only further encourage such illegal activities. The government should have a clear and discriminatory approach in this regard.

The poor and the land grabbers cannot be rewarded with same legal immunity. In case government decides to regularise encroachments having already constructed structures also, not just the market value, but even huge penalty should be collected from them. This would act as disincentive for future encroachments. However, middle class who built their houses without knowing that the land they purchased was occupied by the vendor can be spared from such penalty. But, earlier governments even regularized open and vacant lands which for instance include the land belonging to Government ENT Hospital in Koti. Such glaring violation of the spirit of the GO cannot be allowed to repeat. Any land regularisation policy should not incentivise land grabbers in the name of protecting the poor.

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