Basic overview of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900
According to a report by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti, out of 138 blocks, 105 are in the dark zone. The dark zone is those areas where groundwater exploitation is exceptionally high. Thus, these are notified for protection by the state government. The report further states that considering the present depletion rates, good quality water in the first aquifer up to a depth of 100 m shall be exhausted in a decade. Also, the complete subsurface water resource could be finished in the next twenty-two years. Considering the scenario, the need for the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900 was felt, and it came into the picture.
Enacted in 1900, the Punjab Land Preservation Act was stipulated by the then Government of Punjab. The state government proposed several changes through the Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019.
Aim of the Act–The Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900offers better protection and preservation of specific areas of the state's territories. Furthermore, it shall extend to the whole of the Province of Punjab but not to the Tribal Areas.
Definitions under the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900
The Act defines ‘land" as land within any area protected and preserved or otherwise dealt with in the way provided in the Act. It includes profits caused by land and items or permanently fastened to anything attached to the earth.
Power to regulate, restrict or ban, by general or special order, within notified areas, certain matters
According to the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900, the state government may, by special or general order, temporarily restrict, regulate or prohibit –
- the burning of lime or quarrying of stone at places where such lime or stone hadn’t ordinarily been burnt or quarried before the publication of the notification;
- the breaking up/clearing/cultivating of land not ordinarily under cultivation;
- the cutting of timber/trees or the removal/collection/subjection to any manufacturing procedure otherwise than as described in clause (b);
- the herding, admission, pasturing/retention of sheep/ camels/goats;
- setting timber, trees or forest produce on fire;
- the granting of permits to the people of villages and towns located within the vicinity or limits of any such area to allow taking any timber/tree or forest produce for personal use therefrom or to pasture goats/sheep/or camels or to erect buildings therein and the return and production of such permits by such people; and
- the inspection of forest-produce passing out of any such region.
Power in specific cases, to restrict, regulate or prohibit, by particular order, within mentioned areas, specific further matters
In respect of any particularvillage/s or part/s thereof comprised within the boundaries of any region mentioned under section 3, the state government may, by particular order under the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, temporarily restrict, regulate or prohibit –
- the burning of any lime or the excavating of any stone at places where such lime or stone had usually been so burnt or quarried before the publication of the notification as per section 3;
- the cultivating of any land usually under cultivation;
- the herding, admission, pasturing or retention of cattle usually other than camels and goats, or of any description or class of such cattle; and
- the cutting of timber/trees or the removal/collection/subjection to any manufacturing process, otherwise than as stated in clause (b) of this subsection, of any forest produce for any reasons.
Power to require execution of works and taking of measures
For areas mentioned under section 3 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, usually any part or the entire area, the state government may, by general or special order, direct –
- the construction of earthworks in ravines and fields;
- the terracing, levelling, embanking and drainage of fields;
- the protection of land against the wind or water;
- the facility of drains for stormwater;
- the carrying out and the execution of such other measures as may be necessary for carrying out the purposes of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900; and
- the training of streams.
Need for restriction, regulation or ban to be rehearsed in the order under sections 4, 5 or 5A
Every order shall be published in the Official Gazette. Furthermore, every order shall describe that the state government is content, post due inquiry, that restrictions, regulations, directions, or prohibitions mentioned in the order are essential for providing effect to the provisions of the Punjab Land Preservation Act.
Declaration of restrictions/regulations/prohibitions and admission of claims for compensation for extinguished rights
(1) When notification has been published under section 3 regarding any area, and –
- any particular order under [sections 4, 5 or 5-A] is made regarding the such area, the Deputy Commissioner must generate a public notice of the provisions of that order to be given;
- upon publication of any general order made under section 4 [or section 5-A] becomes applicable to that area.
(2) The Punjab Land Preservation Act further states that any claim not favoured within the time fixed in the declaration made under subsection (1) shall be denied:
Provided that the Deputy Commissioner admits any such claim as if it had been made within such period with the prior approval of the Commissioner.
Power to fix the time within which work is to be executed, etc.
- Every notice must mention when the measures are to be taken or works are to be executed.
- The Deputy Commissioner must require the occupier or owner of the land to execute works or take such measures.
- The Deputy Commissioner can dismiss the objection upon being satisfied that the defect, infirmity or error highlighted was not material.
- A person aggrieved can object to the Deputy Commissioner within one month of serving such notice.
- Under the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, subject to the right of objection, if a person fails to take the measures or execute the works within the limited time, the Deputy Commissioner may, by an agent or himself, executes the works or take the measures. In this case, the person pays the expenses to DC for completing the task.
- If the cost of any measure taken or any work executed by any person remains unpaid, such cost shall be recovered as an arrear of land revenue. Furthermore, the DC will issue a certificate which will be conclusive and final evidence of the sum. Also, the person will be liable for the same.
- Thy DC may authorise any revenue officer subordinate to him to look into any objection brought under this section.
Power of Deputy Commissioner to delimit and decide what constitutes the bed
As per the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900, the DC has the power to take possession of the bed when vested in the State Government. S/he will also -
- fix the limits of the area comprised within the bed of the CHOS to which the notification applies;
- it shall be lawful for the DC to –
- remove all persons therefrom;
- take possession of the area specified in a declaration; and
- deal with such region while it remains vested in the state government as if it was the absolute property of the Government.
Power to make rules
The state government can make rules consistent with the Punjab Land Preservation Act–
- Usually for the reason of carrying into effect any or all provisions of this Act;
- regulating the process to be observed in any inquiry or proceeding under this Act; and
- all rules made under this section shall be published in the Official Gazette.
Control over the Beds of CHAOS
Action when Government considers it necessary to take measures to regulate the beds of Nalah vesting of such beds in Government -
- As per the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, the Government can take measures in the bed of any nalah for the reason of –
- protecting or reclaiming any land situated within the limits of such bed; and
- preventing the widening or extension of or regulating water flow within such bed.
- When the occupiers or owners of such locality can’t agree among themselves regarding the carrying out such measures, the decision of those paying the more considerable amount of land revenue shall be final for all.
The provincial Government, at regular intervals, may extend the period during which any such area shall remain vested.
Compensation bar for acts done under sections 8, 9 or 10
No compensation for any person for doing anything at any time, in good faith, or exercising any power conferred by the above sections. This is under the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900.
Inquiry into Claims and Award of Compensation
(1) The Deputy Commissioner shall –
- record all statements made under section 7in writing;
- decide a date for inquiring into all claims made. S/he may, in discretion, from time to time, adjourn the inquiry to a date to be decided again in future; and
- inquire into all claims.
(2) The DC announces his award to interested personsor representatives. S/he shall record the acceptance of those who accept the award.
(3) For every such inquiry, the DCcan exercise all or any of the powers of a Civil Court in the trial of suits under the Code of Civil Procedure (XIV of 1882).
Method of giving compensation and effect of such award
As per the Punjab Land Preservation Act, the DC shall be guided in determining the compensation amount. This will be done under the provisions of sections 23 and 24 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894.
(2) If, in any case, the exercise of any right is banned for a specific time only, compensation shall be given in respect of that period only.
(3) The DC may, with the approval of the person entitled the state government's sanction rather than money, offer compensation in land or by a decrease in revenue or any other form
The procedure, Appeal and Records under the Punjab Land Preservation Act
According to the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900, the DC shall prepare a record for -
- every region notified under section 3 or section 8;
- regulated, prohibited or restricted areas by any order under section 4 or section 5; and
- effect of any award made under section 14 upon any right.
It must be noted that the process mentioned in sections 20-22 of the Punjab Land Revenue Act, 1887, will be followed for proceedings under the Act.
Penalties, Bar of Rules and Suits
Penalty for offences
Any person who, within the limits of any region mentioned under section 3, breaks any regulation made will be punished with one-month imprisonment or with a one hundred rupees fine or both.
Application of provisions of the Indian Forest Act, 1927
The provisions of sections 52, 54-64 (excluding the last sentence), 66-68 and 73 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 are applicable as part of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900. Every wrongdoing punishable under section 19 shall be considered a "forest offence.” Besides, every officer employed in the management of any region mentioned under section 3 or 8, as a caretaker or otherwise, shall be considered to be a Forest Officer.
Following are the differences between the original Act and the new Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900
- The original law stated the prevention of erosion/conservation of subsoil water in areas found to be prone to erosion or expected to become liable to erosion.
- Section 3 of the original Act mentions that the Government has the power to bring any region as mentioned above under the domain of the PLPA via a notification.
- A new section- Section 3A, has been introduced in the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900 to exclude specific areas from Bill's domain.
Problems with the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900
As per its provisions, the PLPA won’t apply to ‘the lands included in any other town improvement schemes or plans and the final development plans. The list includes all the provisions of laws like the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority Act, 2017 and the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, 1994.
Environmentalists believe that the Government’s current move has exposed several acres of land falling on the hills and foothills of Aravalli. The range covers over 26,000 acres in Faridabad and Gurgaon for real estate development and mining.
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