The campaign demanding stringent land laws in Uttarakhand which was initiated through social media platforms a few weeks ago to restrict land purchase by outsiders has garnered considerable attention from the general public and political parties across the State. In view of State assembly elections ahead, some parties have even promised to add the demand of introducing stringent land laws in their manifesto.
However many believe that the current State government might take action on this issue soon. While many said that the State government should strictly ban the purchasing of land by non-Uttarakhandis, some opined that other factors associated with land laws must be addressed too.
According to Prakash Singh, a local of Almora and a professor at Kumaon University, the issue of migration is deeply associated with the issue of increasing numbers of people from other States buying land here or investing in it. “Many from mountainous regions of the State migrate every year to other cities in search of jobs. Later, they settle there and sell their land here. Also, many from other states investing in the land commercially provide jobs to locals here. The government should also consider all these points before making the laws,” stated Singh.
Activist and member of a local group called Citizens For Green Doon (CFGD), Himanshu Arora also said that strict land laws must be introduced but the issue of migration must be considered too. He stated that youths are going outside for employment opportunities which we lack here and outsiders are buying land here because they find the prices cheaper here. “One can easily observe a cultural shift here in Uttarakhand in the past few years. People from other states are residing here and opening businesses while our people are getting settled outside. The migration factor must be considered while making strict land laws or the day will come when the State will have very few of its own people,” said Arora. A local from Chakrata, Mohit Chauhan said that land laws are not just about expensive or cheap land but are also crucial for the security of locals, the environment and forests. “Crimes, frauds and harassment cases regarding land plots are abundant in Chakrata area alone. Most of the people involved in such cases are outsiders. Stringent laws must be introduced soon to provide a safer future to the public here,” said Chauhan.
Social activist and founder of Social Development for Communities (SDC) Foundation, Anoop Nautiyal said that introduction of strict land laws is the need of the hour but the State government should first release a detailed white paper on the matters related to the land laws to make the public informed about all the facets related to land here. “The Uttarakhand government should issue a detailed report on subjects like what was the condition of lands 20 years ago and what it is now. The public here should be made aware of how much land is available in districts and how much land is being used for agricultural purposes here. Such thorough information will help the public to have an enriched dialogue on the matter,” stated Nautiyal.