BJP walks out of Himachal assembly over favour to hotel

Dharamsala : The opposition BJP Tuesday staged a walkout from the assembly over the alleged misuse of section 118 of the Himachal Pradesh Tenancy and Land Reforms Act of 1972 in granting permission to a hotelier.

The BJP questioned the Congress government’s role in “blatantly favouring and regularising” Hotel Korinns in Barog in Solan district, which had come up in violation of the act.

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Section 118 of the act allows only permanent residents of the state to buy land.

Others who want to purchase land for non-agricultural purposes have to seek permission from the state government.

Leader of Opposition and two-time chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said this property was to be vested with the government as per a decision taken during his tenure.

Replying to a question by BJP members Mohinder Singh, Ravinder Singh and Satpal Satti on permissions granted under section 118, Revenue Minister Kaul Singh said the cabinet gave permission to the owner of the hotel, a woman.

“Since the hotel was already constructed and the owner was a woman, the cabinet decided to give permission under section 118 on humanitarian grounds and in the interest of tourism promotion in the state,” he said.

This agitated the BJP members.

Dhumal asked how many permissions under section 118 were given to women on humanitarian grounds.

He said the Congress in its earlier tenure in 2007 had given permission to the hotel.

Later, the BJP staged a walkout raising slogans like “Himachal on sale”.

Condemning the walkout, the revenue minister informed the house that the government had given section 118 permissions in 240 cases from Dec 25, 2012 to Oct 31, 2014 and most of them were to non-farmers.

He said the previous Dhumal government had mostly accommodated non-Himachalis and allowed them to open private universities.

“The previous BJP government also provided land to Baba Ramdev in violation of norms, which we have vested with the government,” he added.