Vacate Land Or Face Action, Punjab Chief Minister Warns Illegal Occupants

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Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Friday asked squatters to vacate government land by May 31 or face action.The ultimatum comes a day after Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal directed officials to ensure the removal of encroachments from government panchayat land by June 10.Mann lamented that the previous governments in the state allowed “affluent people” to encroach on government land by violating norms and termed it “unwarranted and undesirable”.He said the state government is committed to freeing land from squatters and an anti-encroachment drive will begin on June 1.However, if there are houses on such land where people are living, they will not be dislocated during the drive, he added.From day one of assuming office, Mann said, his government had adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards encroachments.Mann, according to an official statement, said it is a matter of great pride and satisfaction that the state government has so far freed more than 9,000 acres of government land from encroachers.He said the momentum will be maintained and “every inch” of government land under illegal occupation will be vacated by all means.Meanwhile, Dhaliwal too said people residing on such land, if any, will not be dislocated.He said several people have offered to pay for the land under their possession and added that the state government has finalised a policy for the same.A price will be fixed for the land in question which can be as per the collector rates or market rates and the deputy commissioners concerned are authorised to take a decision in this regard, the minister said.The state government’s target is to reclaim 6,000 acres of land under illegal encroachment by June 10. Last year, 9,030 acres of land was freed from encroachment, the average market value of which was around Rs 2,709 crore, he said.In the last five days, 189 acres of land was vacated by encroachers on their own. Last year too, following an appeal by the chief minister, 3,396 acres of land was vacated by people themselves, he claimed.He also appealed to people illegally occupying government land to vacate them so that the revenue collected can be used for the welfare of Punjab.No legal action will be taken against those vacating government land by May 31, he said.