DHARAMSHALA, February 26: In what could bring some relief to the Tibetan families accused of encroachment of forest land the Himachal Pradesh government, which is against regularization of the encroached land, has decided not to evict the occupants but offer them the land on lease, according to a report in Times of India.
The HP government would relocate the occupants in another land of equal of larger size in the state should there be any eviction order coming from the High Court.
The Himachal Pradesh High Court had issued a ruling in 2012 to evict the Tibetan refugees who had occupied forest land in different parts of Himachal Pradesh by March 31, 2013, causing panic for more than 200 families here listed by the local administration.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had last February asked the state government to keep the eviction process in abeyance and wait for further advisory on the issue.
The Tibetan refugees had built houses on the forest land prior to the enactment of Forest Conservation Act.
The revenue and forest department will jointly identify bonafide Tibetan refugees from deliberate encroachers. The bonafide settlers will be settled under theTibetan Rehabilitation Policy, 2014, and deliberate encroachers evicted under existing law, states the notification.
In case of occupation on non-forest land, individual Tibetans can sign long-term lease agreement with the duly authorized representative of the Central Tibetan Relief Committee, which oversees rehabilitation programs of the Tibetan exile government. The lease deed shall be then signed by the local on behalf of the state government.
The notification states 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by an order of the state government or till the rehabilitation facilities provided to Tibetan refugees are cancelled or withdrawn by the state government on the advice of government of India, whichever is earlier.
According to the Dharamshala Tibetan Settlement Officer, most of the 210 cases of encroachment are located in the Tibetan residential areas of TIPA road and Bhagsu road in Mcleod Ganj town.
The National Green Tribunal, in July 2013, ordered the state government to set up a committee to probe the charges against the Tibetan families. The committee visited McLeod Ganj to probe the matter following which the committee submitted its report to the tribunal. The report claimed that Tibetans have illegally built houses on forest land and also cut down trees.