The Himachal Pradesh assembly Friday referred the Himachal Pradesh Ceiling on Land Holdings (Amendment) Bill to a select committee for consideration amidst walkout by the Congress members.
The opposition demanded that the bill be withdrawn contending that it would open the floodgates for "plundering" scarce agricultural land in the state.
Congress member Kaul Singh said the agricultural land must be preserved and alleged that people settled outside the state would purchase land on the pretext of setting up projects and institutions.
“The visionary chief minister (late) Y.S. Parmar had brought the ceiling act in the interests of farmers and to check indiscriminate purchase of land,” he said.
In response, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said the state Congress governments had amended the land laws several times.
Maximum permissions for purchase of land in relaxation of section 118 of the Land Reforms and Tenancy Act, which barred outsiders from purchasing land for non-agricultural purposes, were given during its regimes, he said.
As the speaker put to vote the motion for referring the bill to a select committee as proposed by the chief minister, the Congress members staged a walkout. The motion was adopted by a voice-vote.
The amendment bill, seeking to exempt entrepreneurs and religious groups involved in creating educational and sports facilities from the provisions of land ceiling law, was introduced in the assembly Thursday.