Himachal assembly has heated debate over land to Ramdev

Shimla: The Himachal legislative assembly on Wednesday witnessed a heated debate between the ruling Congress and opposition BJP over land allotted to yoga guru Baba Ramdev in Solan district for setting up a branch of Patanjali Yogpeeth.

Responding to queries during the Question Hour, Revenue Minister Kaul Singh Thakur said the Cabinet on February 17 restored to Patanjali Yogpeeth the land allotted to it, albeit with a rider.

The deed was cancelled on February 19, 2013, after the government came across alleged violations in land allotment norms.

The Minister said the Cabinet nod to restore the land lease came on a plea by the Patanjali Yogpeeth Trust in January 2017 that it wanted to establish herbal medicinal plants on the said land at Mauza Kalhog in Kandaghat tehsil of Solan district.

He said the Cabinet decided to reconsider cancellation of the lease as the move had put heavy financial burden on state resources.

Kaul Singh accused the state’s previous Bharatiya Janata Party government led by then Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal of executing the land deal overnight.

He said the land lease was executed at a rate of Re 1 per annum for 99 years, which is unjustified.

The minister said the government found that the Patanjali Trust was constructing a five-star hotel and a hospitality unit on the leased land, which forced it to take possession of the land.

This agitated former Chief Minister Dhumal, who blamed the Congress government for deciding the matter in haste.

The Cabinet, chaired by Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, had decided to consider the Trust’s request to review the lease cancellation if the Trust withdrew a petition that challenged the decision in the High Court, a government statement said.