Himachal Government Keen on Building University Without Recognising Rights of Forest Dwellers

Location of Conflict

Kand/Dharamsala

Kangra

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Education

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1600

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

281

ha

Starting Year

2009

State

Himachal Pradesh

Sector

Infrastructure

The residents of Kand Kardiana village in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, stare at an uncertain future as the state government has proposed to utilise their land to build a university. Ironically, it was the state, which, in 1975, had allotted nautor land to the people under the Nautor Policy to help them settle and earn a livelihood. Under this policy, nautor land, or wasteland, which was later converted to forestland, was granted to landless people as defined in the scheme. However, only a handful of people got their land registered in the states land record due to restrictions imposed by the Forest Conservation Act of 1980, which does not allow the use of forestland for nonforest purposes without the approval of the government. From 1980 onwards, the Nautor files floated from forest departments to revenue departments but never got materialised into conclusive records of land ownership. Since then, these people have been labelled encroachers. Now, the government wants to take over the land in Kand Kardania to build the Central University of Himachal Pradesh (CUPH). To build the north campus of the university, the government is acquiring approximately 156.66 hectares of land, which falls under the jurisdiction of four panchayatsKand Kardiana, Tang Narbaana, Narvaana Khaas and Balla Jadrangal. The proposed construction will directly affect 70 households of Kand Kardiana panchayat and 45 households of other panchayats, who either have their homes or agricultural fields or both at the proposed site. The project is believed to affect the community forest rights of the residents as the people are heavily dependent on the forestland for forest produce, such as fodder, wood, medicinal plants and herbs. The process of filing claims under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) started in 2016. The subdivisional level committee (SDLC) rejected the claims in December 2017 on the ground that a noobjection certificate (NOC) had been taken by the government in 2016. But this was done by blatantly ignoring the terms and conditions put forward by the people while giving the NOC. We have no objection to the construction of the university; all we demand is that our forest rights should not be affected, especially the households that claim Individual Forest Rights, Desh Raj, a resident of Kand Kardania, told Land Conflict Watch. In February 2019, the districtlevel committee (DLC), citing a decision taken by the SDLC in another meeting in November 2018, reiterated that there were no claims over the site proposed for the university as the people did not have objections to the construction. The DLC also ignored the objections raised against its decision by a nonofficial member of the committee who recommended recognising the forest rights of the people of Kand Kardiana. With their rights claims getting rejected by both the SDLC and the DLC, the people had no choice but to approach the state level monitoring committee with their grievances, which has directed the SDLC to give an impartial hearing to the case. The construction of CUHP has been fraught with tension since its inception. First, the university struggled with acquiring a forest clearance for a long time due to the environmental concerns raised by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change. In 2012, the Forest Advisory Committee stated that the requirement of forestland was quite large as many nonessential items were being included as a requirement, such as the provision of forestland for future expansion. The site inspection report even pointed out the topographical unsuitability of the land at the proposed site for construction activity. Despite all this, the government has been adamant on going ahead with the construction for CUHP. Meanwhile, caught in a bureaucratic and political play, the residents of Kand Kardiana continue to wait for the legal recognition of their forest rights under the FRA, which entitles them to compensation in case of a transfer of their forestland for any development project.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

400

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest Rights Act of 2006

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Non-implementation / violation of the FRA

Legal Status:

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Himachal Pradesh , Government of India, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, State education ministry, State forest department , State Public Works Department

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Himachal Van Adhikaar Manch

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective

Reviewed By

Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective

Updated By

Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective

Edited By

Himdhara Environment Research and Action CollectiveLand Conflict Watch
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