[TNN] SHIMLA, Feb 26: Following Himachal Pradesh government’s decision not to allow regularization of illegal encroachment of land by Tibetans in the state, now the government has decided not to disturb land under the occupation of Tibetan bonafide settlers. In case of court order requiring them to evict the land, the government would then relocate them by providing fresh land of equal or larger size.
Tibetan refugees who had occupied forest land in different parts of Himachal Pradesh were earlier fearing their dispossession following direction from the National Green Tribunal to vacate forest land from encroachment. In February last year, the Union ministry of home affairs had advised the state government to keep the eviction process in abeyance and wait for further advisory on the issue. But now in pursuance of the November 21, 2013 orders passed by NGT in a case titled Pawan Kumar vs State of HP, the government has framed Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy, notification for which was issued on Tuesday.
The land in question was forest land and unauthorized occupation by Tibetan refugees was prior to the enactment of Forest Conservation Act. At that time, the state government was empowered to allow occupation of government land to these refugees as the rehabilitation of Tibetan refugees is commitment of the government of India and the issue has international ramification.
Now the state government does not want to conclude the eviction proceedings initiated by the DFO-cum- collector, Dharamshala. The culmination of eviction orders may create law and order problem as multi-storey structures are involved and the disposal of muck will be a big problem. Instead, the state is framing Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy to settle the issue, which is based on the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy, 2014 of the government of India.
The revenue and forest department will jointly identify bonafide Tibetan refugees and those who are deliberate encroachers. The bonafide settlers will be settled under this policy and deliberate encroachers evicted under existing law, states the notification.
In case of occupation on non-forest land, long-term lease agreement would be signed with individual Tibetans, but with the duly authorized representative of the Central Tibetan Relief Committee. The local magistrate would sign the lease deed on behalf of the state government. The lease agreement would be renewed periodically and the Tibetan refugee families would be authorized to retain possession of land and houses on a temporary basis.
According to the new policy, Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC) would be allowed to decide which portion of the land can be used for residential, agricultural, commercial, religious activity or any such activity so that the Tibetan families can follow their culture and religion unhindered, and yet are able to make an economic living out of the land.
The notification says that the lease should be signed for a period of 20 years or till it is revoked or cancelled by an order of the state government or till the rehabilitation facilities provided to Tibetan refugees are cancelled or withdrawn by the state government on the advice of government of India, whichever is earlier.