Circular silent on protection of gomala land, tanks

The Karnataka government issued a circular to all the regional commissioners and deputy commissioners to demarcate village boundaries and protect government land including Gomala and tank bed almost two-and-half years after the Supreme Court’s order instructing chief secretaries of all the states to protect government land.

The circular was issued on June 14 this year, a week after an activist Kalidas Reddy filed an RTI application seeking measures taken on the SC directive. However, the circular which was issued after much delay does not speak about the mechanism to file complaints and check their status. Also, it is silent on protecting the Gomala lands, mainly in urban areas which are up for grabs.

The Division Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra in their January 28, 2011 ruling in the Jagpal Singh and others versus the State of Punjab and other cases  - had noted that the village panchayats had kept common land reserved for the benefit of public since time immemorial.

The judges had noted, “These public utility lands in the villages were for centuries used for the common benefit of the village residents, such as ponds for various purposes, to drink and bathe their cattle, for storing their harvested grain, as grazing ground for the cattle, threshing floor, maidan for playing, carnivals, circuses, ramlila, cart stands, water bodies, passages, cremation ground or graveyards and more. These lands stood vested through local laws in the State, which handed over their management to Gram Sabhas or Gram Panchayats.”

However, even after two-and-half years of the order, no measures were taken to implement the order. In the circular, the Revenue Department principal secretary has asked the regional commissioners, deputy commissioners and tahsildars to verify records pertaining to the Form-9 of the Revenue Department. 

Certifying boundaries

In the event of certifying the village boundary (Grama Thana Pradesha), the tahsildar must demarcate the boundaries. Any violations of the regulations must be dealt with sternly, the circular stated.

Though the judgement also dealt extensively on the protection of water tanks, stating they must be protected at any cost, the circular makes no mention of any survey in this regard.

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