By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun, 30 Jan: Several important and some contentious decisions were taken by the Cabinet headed by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat at the Secretariat, here, today. The media was later briefed on the decisions by Government Spokesperson and Minister Madan Kaushik.
In all, 16 decisions were taken.
One major decision of the cabinet, today, which can be called somewhat contentious relates to conversion of land use of agriculture land to non-agriculture land. As per the provisions of Section 143 of the UP Zamindari Abolition & Land Reforms Act, also applicable in Uttarakhand, the Assistant Collector/SDM of the area is authorised to change the nature of land from agricultural to residential. This change in the nature of the land is considered either suo moto, or at the request of the party, whereupon, a survey of the land is conducted by the Lekhpal, who sends a report to the SDM concerned, with the endorsement of the Tehsildar. The SDM, if satisfied with the report, in turn, passes a declaration under Section 143 , converting the land use. However, as per the decision of the Cabinet, today, requests for land use conversion from agriculture to non agriculture can now be directly submitted to the Development Authority.
This means that the government will be effecting this change in the Act through an ordinance, which would later be brought as an amendment bill in the state assembly for ratification.
While it is a well known fact that land use change is a major source of corruption in the district administration, development authorities too are also considered to be corrupt organisations. Secondly, it is strictly a revenue issue which ought to be dealt by the revenue officials, according to the experts.
In yet another decision that can raise eyebrows, approval of amendment to the Uttarakhand Sub Minerals Rules 2001, and increasing the depth of mining (picking up of stones and sand etc) in rivers from 1.5 metres to 3 metres from the ground level.
Other decisions include-
The maximum age for recruitment in Technical Services cadre of the transport department has been raised from 35 to 42 years. The cabinet today approved a proposal to extend the time limit for hearing of old cases of VAT from January 2020 till March 2020.
It may be recalled that the Supreme Court had directed the state government to pay pension to work-charge personnel in PWD in four instalments within 3 months. However, it appears that the government is finding it difficult to manage the payment within the stipulated period. The cabinet today approved a proposal to allow the government to approach the Supreme Court with the request to consider extension of the period.
In another decision taken by the cabinet, today, consultancy fees being paid to consultants for Kedarnath Reconstruction works has now been reduced from 3.2 percent to 2 percent. It is important to reiterate that it is the standard norm to pay 2 percent of the project cost as consultancy charges and, so far, a much higher amount was being paid as consultancy fee for the Kedarnath Reconstruction Project.
The cabinet has also approved a new residential school to be opened in Jaiharikhal. The school will operate through a trust. The Chief Minister will be the Chairman of the trust while the Education Minister will be the Vice Chairman. The project is partly sponsored by the Hans Foundation which would bear 60 percent of the cost of the project.
It may be recalled that, in Rishikesh, lease period of 830 acres of land leased out to the Centre in the past for the now defunct IDPL factory is set to expire in March. The Centre is due to return this land to the state government. The Cabinet today approved a proposal to hand over 200 acres of this land to AIIMS Rishikesh, and of transferring the rest to the state tourism department. This land will be first handed over to the Forest Department which would then transfer it to the tourism department. The cabinet also decided to reconsider a previous decision to transfer 7.06 hectares of land costing Rs 4 crores to a private residential school in Nainisar, Almora. It will be seen how much of that land has been used in five years.
The cabinet also approved a proposal to bring an ordinance to get rights to close any animal slaughterhouse, in any district or any other civic or rural area. This will allow the government to restrict or ban animal slaughter in any area. This is done with the view to restrict or ban animal slaughter in places which are considered sacred.
The cabinet also approved creation of 31 posts for Kumbh Mela 2021. The posts are that of Deputy Magistrate-1, Information Officer-1, Assistant Accountant-1, Senior Assistant-1, Junior Assistant-2, Data Entry Operator-4, Peon-2, Chowkidar-1, Mate-1, Beldar-10, Revenue Inspector-2, Deputy Revenue Inspector-5
The cabinet also approved a proposal to make Indian Industry Association a partner for the Wellness Summit to be held in April 2020.