Punjab. Squatters have until June 30 to voluntarily vacate panchayat land

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The Punjab government has given the illegal occupants until June 30 to voluntarily relinquish possession of the panchayat lands, after which action will be taken to evict them.

Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal made the announcement after meeting with representatives of 23 farmers’ organizations on Monday. “The Punjab government is evicting illegal occupants from panchayat lands after completing the legal process,” he said, adding that no houses will be demolished.

The Minister has also issued instructions to the officers concerned to ensure that 15 days notice is given before the removal of illegal encroachments. He said if a person who receives the notice has a document to support their legitimate claim, it can be submitted to the district and panchayat development officer for review.

Dhaliwal said that so far the paperwork has been completed to evict the illegal occupants from 8,000 acres of panchayat land, while 2,600 acres of land have already been released. The squatters in those cases had exhausted all legal options, he said.

Stating that the state government will protect the interests of the poor and small-scale farmers, the minister clarified that the department also gives priority to the current occupier of the panchayat farmlands to get them for lease.

A nine-member joint committee of government officials and representatives of farmers’ organizations will also be formed to identify farmers who have turned barren tracts into farmland. To provide relief in such cases, if needed, the matter will be addressed in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dhaliwal said.

The minister of panchayats said that after June 10, a campaign will also be launched to remove illegal occupants from commercial lands of panchayats. He said the campaign will be launched in villages adjoining major cities like Mohali, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar.

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