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

Reported by

Himdhara Environment Research and Action Collective

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

July 28, 2019

July 28, 2019

Updated on

July 28, 2019

Location of Conflict

Kand Kardiana village

Tang Narbaana, Narvaana Khaas and Balla Jadrangal

Kangra

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Education

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

1600

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

75

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. The project, proposed in 2009, is to construct the Central University of Himachal Pradesh (CUPH) in Dharamshala and Dehra of Kangra district. In Dharamshala, the government plans to acquire approximately 99 hectares of land for constructing the north campus, of which 75.3 Ha is forestland. The area falls under the jurisdiction of four panchayats, Kand Kardiana, Tang Narbaana, Narvaana Khaas and Balla Jadrangal.  The project would directly affect 70 families in Kand Kardiana panchayat and 45 households in other panchayats, who either have their homes and agricultural fields at the proposed site. The acquisition would impact their livelihoods as they are heavy dependent on the forests. According to the residents, they were allotted common land as a part of a state policy. In 1975, the state government had notified a scheme to allot nautor land to landless persons to aid them in settling and earning a livelihood. However, later these lands were classified as forestlands and became restricted under the Forest Conservation Act of 1980. Consequently, many persons could not get their plots registered under the official land records. Since then, these families remain labelled as encroachers.  Now, the government wants to take over the land in Kand Kardania to build the university. However, the eviction would leave the families homeless without compensation or rehabilitation. Therefore, they seek recognition of their rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006.  The process of filing claims under the FRA started in 2016. The SubDivisional Level Committee (SDLC) rejected the claims in December 2017 on the ground that a No Objection Certificate (NOC) was already given to the government in 2016. But this was done by blatantly ignoring the terms and conditions put forward by the people while granting 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 December 2018, the affected persons protested and submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister, as per a news report.  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 object to the construction. The DLC also ignored the objections raised against its decision by a nonofficial member of the committee which had 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. Earlier, the university struggled with acquiring a forest clearance due to the environmental concerns raised by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The site inspection report pointed towards the topographical unsuitability of the proposed site for construction.   As per a news report, the land demarcated in Dehra has been given forest clearance now. However, Dharamshala is still not granted the same. Despite this, the government has been adamant on going ahead with the construction of CUHP. According to a news report, in February 2021, the forest department planned to visit for a site inspection to address the problems. In March, the Union Ministry of Finance approved Rs. 740.79 for the two campus sites. However, the process of land acquisition cannot start in Dharamshala until the forest clearance is accorded.  Meanwhile, the residents of Kand Kardiana continue to wait for the legal recognition of their forest rights under the FRA. The restrictions due to the pandemic have obstructed the efforts of the affected families to advocate and protest for their claims, Desh Raj informed LCW. 

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for legal recognition of land rights

Complaint against procedural violations

Demand to retain/protect access to common land/resources

Refusal to give up land for the project

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

242

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Forest and Scheduled Area Governance Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
Section 2: Restriction on usage of forest land for non-forest purposes
Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006
Section 3(1)(a): Right to live on and hold forest land; Section 6: The Gram Sabha initiates the process of determining the extent of forest rights, and an aggrieved party can can refer to the Sub-Divisional Level Committee
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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 FRA

Forced evictions/dispossession of land

Lack of legal protection over land rights

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

No items found.

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Complaints/petitions/letters/memorandums to officials

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Government of Himachal Pradesh; Forest Department; State Public Works Department; Department of Education; Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India

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?

Communities/Local Organisations 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:

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Reviewed By

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Updated By

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