LE Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 5, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has rejected the plea of dairy owners in Punjab’s Patiala town, seeking to quash orders passed by the Joint Commissioner of the town’s Municipal Corporation and sent to the petitioners, asking them to immediately shift their businesses to the dairy development project in nearby Ablowal. 

The orders, passed by the Joint Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Patiala, on 23.06.2021, also asked the petitioners to deposit money for the new allotted land at the rate of Rs 3,500 per sq yard instead of the earlier assured Collector rate.

Deciding the matter, the bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal said that it is apparent that in 2003, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission directed the Municipal Corporation to take steps to shift the dairies. Thereafter, the Punjab Government provided 15 acres of land to the Municipal Corporation for the project of resettlement of the dairy owners. An additional land of 6.25 acres was taken from the Forest Department.

As per the bench, the photographs of the area show that some development work has been carried out. The streets with paver tiles and electricity lines have been laid and plots have been carved. “In this process, 18 years have already elapsed. At this stage, it would not be appropriate for the Writ Court to interfere on the ground that all the dairies are sought to be concentrated at a particular place in the absence of material to show that the land ear-marked is not at all suitable.”

The bench added that the petitioners have not placed on record sufficient material to prove that the price demanded is exorbitant.

The petitioners run dairy business by keeping milk yielding animals within the area of the Municipal Corporation, Patiala. In order to shift the dairies situated within the city outside of the municipal area, a conscious decision was taken. In that process, land measuring 15 acres owned by the Municipal Corporation in village Ablowal was identified. However, since the aforesaid piece of land was not sufficient, additional land measuring 6.25 acres owned by the Forest Department was also requisitioned.

Thus, on a total land measuring 21.25 acres, the project was sought to be developed. After carrying out some development in the area earmarked, the allotment of the plots has been started.

The dairy owners have also been directed to shift their dairy out of the limits of the Municipal Corporation before 10.08.2021.

The counsel representing the petitioners contended that the location of the dairy project in village Ablowal is not appropriate as all the dairies cannot be allowed to concentrate at one place.

“The petitioners claim that at one point of time they were planning to shift the dairies at 5 different locations. In the considered view of this Court, at this late stage, it would not be appropriate to go into the aforesaid fact particularly when not only the land has been earmarked but some development work has also taken place,” the HC said.

“As regards the arguments of learned counsel that there are high tension electricity wires going over the area, it may be noted that the officials of the Municipal Corporation must have examined all the relevant aspects while identifying and selecting the said area,” bench stated.

The bench further said the petitioners have not placed on record sufficient material to prove that the price demanded is exorbitant. “In these circumstances, this Bench finds that the petitioners have not placed sufficient material to enable the Court to examine this aspect. Hence, without any further deliberation, the matter is kept open,” the HC said.

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