The cabinet, at a meeting chaired led by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday, gave approval to notify the rules of the Punjab Slum Dwellers (Proprietary Rights) Act, 2020, for the purpose of giving proprietary rights of land to slum dwellers, thus ensuring basic amenities for them.
The spokesperson of the chief minister’s office said the Local Government Department had already prepared the ‘BASERA – Chief Minister’s Slum Development Programme’, which outlines the guiding framework for the civic bodies to implement the act.
This programme envisages a “slum-free Punjab” with inclusive and equitable cities, in which every citizen has access to basic civic services, social amenities and decent shelter, the spokesperson said.
“For sustainable growth of the cities, the management of slums in the urban areas of the state is a major concern, which the rules (giving ownership rights to slum dwellers) will help address to some extent,” the spokesperson said.
In a bid to confer proprietary rights upon certain categories of persons in occupation of agrarian land in the state, the cabinet approved ‘The Punjab Bhondedar, Butemar, Dohlidar, Insar Miadi, Mukarraridar, Mundhimar, Panahi Qadeem, Saunjidar, or Taraddadkar (Vesting of Proprietary Rights) Bill, 2020’.
Some 11,231 people in these categories, currently occupying private land spread across 4,000 acres, will get the proprietary rights after payment of due compensation as per grades to be notified by the government shortly, the spokesperson said.
The cabinet has accepted the proposal of the Revenue Department to recognise these people as ‘Specified Categories’ for a period of at least 20 years from January 1, 2020, and includes their predecessors and the successors-in-interest, before the coming into force of this Act.
These categories were left out at the time of vesting of proprietary rights to occupancy tenants under the Punjab Occupancy Tenants (Vesting of Proprietary Rights) Act, 1952 (Act 8 of 1953) and PEPSU Occupancy Tenants (Vesting of Proprietary Rights) Act, 1954 (Act 18 of 1954).
“The measure is part of agrarian reforms to empower tillers of such land, who belong mostly to the economically and socially weaker sections of the society. These tenants have been in occupation of small parcels of land for several years and inherit their rights by succession from generation to generation,” the spokesperson said.
However, since they were not recorded as owners, they could neither access financial institutions for crop loans nor get calamity relief.