Panchayat locks horns with authorities

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Gram panchayat of Naldehra has locked horns with the Naldehra Golf Club and revenue authorities over the transfer of the “defunct PWD road land” measuring about 35 bighas to the Tourism Department, which seeks to develop Naldehra into a national level golf facility.

The gram panchayat has charged that the land transfer move is backed by “powerful IAS lobby” that dominates the golf club and has turned the Naldehra Golf course into “an exclusive domain of elites”.“The land transfer was carried out without the consent of the panchayat denying entry of villagers into the golf course which as per revenue records is villagers’ ‘charagah’ (grazing land)”, asserted gram panchayat pradhan, Naldehra, Bhikan Chand and former pradhan, Hem Singh Verma.

“The villagers have been enjoying the traditional ‘bartandari’ rights in the land of golf course ever since the time of the British, who had set up the course here in the early 20th century”, they claimed.

The panchayats have demanded a written assurance from the state government saying that the villagers of both Naldehra and Baldeinya panchayats would continue to get their rights over the land of the golf course.The Naldehra gram panchayat has slapped notices to the state revenue authorities seeking clarification as to why gram panchayat consent was not taken before transferring the land to the Tourism Department, said Bhikam Chand. “Villagers go to jungle through the paths in the golf course to collect fuel woods.

The villagers pay obeisance at the temple located inside the golf course, which has nine bighas of land in its name”, he claimed.Captain-cum-of inchrage of the Naldehra Golf Club Brig (Retd) BS Kanwar has termed the allegations baseless saying that the land was transferred from one government agency to the other.

“This has been done to help develop Naldehra Golf Course, world’s oldest, to a national level course so that international golfers come here. This will also promote it as an international tourist spot in the vicinity of Shimla, a former capital of the erstwhile Raj”, he claimed.

Brig Kanwar said the villagers would continue to have their rights over ‘charagah’ of the golf course. “Tourism has generated local employment. We have laid three paths for villagers to enter the course so that they can perform puja at the temple and allow grazing in rainy season. We donate Rs 1 lakh every year to the temple”, Brig Kanwar said.

Story: The Tribune

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