September 2, 2021
Who’s the owner?
To: either/view subscribers
Good morning. When we were young, we used to play physical games and keep running around excitedly. But most minors today are stuck with their phones. Online games are one of the main reasons for this. China has a solution!
The authorities have limited online game time to only three-hours in a week. No games from Monday to Thursday. These new regulations have been created as the government is worried about the negative impact of games on youth. From eyesight issues to online addiction, it could cause several damages. But the restrictions are a major blow for the gaming industry. So, what’s your take on this?
📰 FEATURE STORY
What is the fate of the Goa Bhumi Adhikarini Bill, 2021?
Goa Bhumi Adhikarini Bill, 2021 is all over the place. One day, the headlines read that the bill had been passed amid opposition walkout. The next day we hear that the government has called for suggestions. And now, an RTI report shows severe flagging against the bill by different departments in the state. It creates a web of confusion, right?
So, we are going to untangle it today. Tracing this entire timeline, we will now understand the support and criticisms of the bill and figure out what lies ahead.
We all love having our own houses, don’t we? There are so many struggles we have to face though. Imagine that you have built your own house or that you are living in a home that was built by your parents. But the land is not in your name. It messes up everything. You may not be able to avail some special schemes. Besides, you will have to live with the constant fear that someday your house will be snatched or you will be dragged to court over ownership issues. This is the case of several Goans today. So, the government decided to help them out.
The Goa Bhumi Adhikarini Bill was proposed to help Goans get ownership of the lands they reside in. The bill was introduced in the assembly on July 29 and was passed the next day. It aims to help self-occupied dwellers of small housing units get ownership rights easily. This way, several dwellers can live with dignity and self-respect.
Who is eligible to apply for these provisions? A person who has lived in Goa for at least 30 years can claim a stake over the ownership of the house. This house should not be more than 250 sq. m. Additionally, it should have been built before April 1, 2019.
The government’s intent for the bill is good. But government departments, opposition parties and civil societies are against the bill. They claim that there are many loopholes in it. After listening to the queries, the government has now opened the window for suggestions. So, what exactly is the criticism and what is the future of the bill?
The bill was not administratively approved
The concerns raised do not deal entirely with the aim of the bill. It is more to do with the provisions and vague eligibility criteria provided in the bill. Before we delve into the details of what happened in the legislative assembly, here are a few loopholes experts fear of.
To be eligible for the provisions, you should have resided in Goa for at least 30 years and the structure you live in should have been built before April 01, 2019. This implies that anyone who has been in Goa for 30 years, not necessarily in that particular house, can claim ownership. You should have only been in that house on April 1, 2019, to fulfil the criteria.
Moreover, there is no clear difference between owners and tenants of a house. Say, there is a person who has been residing in the house on April 1, 2019. They have also been in Goa for more than thirty years. Even if they have been paying rent to reside in the house, the provisions in the bill allow them to claim ownership of the house. This only means that any person sitting on your land can acquire ownership of your property, irrespective of whether they are encroachers or tenants. The owners are definitely in trouble.
In the case of government-owned lands, does the bill allow authorities and employees living in government quarters to claim ownership of those? The 250 sq. m. rule does not clarify if this is applicable for all buildings – be it multi-storied or single floor houses. These are a few drawbacks of the bill.
Recently, a Right to Information appeal revealed a few shocking details. We all know that the bill was passed after the opposition staged a walkout. But there is more to it. Before the passing of bills, the bill was opposed by the revenue, law and finance departments.
The bill was passed on July 30 at 4:00 PM. Two hours before this, the Revenue department submitted a file noting that the bill had not been administratively approved by the revenue minister. The file also read that there was a shortage of time and so the bill has not been examined thoroughly. Previously, the law department had flagged the bill citing that it might violate Article 300A of the Constitution of India.
The Finance Department also wrote that the introduction of the bill was not recommended. It asserted that the proposal can not be considered in the present form and needs more detailing. The opposition also alleged that it was BJP’s political move to win votes. They also accused the government of helping the migrants at the cost of locals. The government overlooked these concerns and passed the bill.
Government ready to take in suggestions
A few days after the bill was passed, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant announced that the government is open to receiving suggestions for the bill. Let’s look at what this holds for the future.
First off, why was such a bill needed? There has been an increase in the number of cases where homes were built by an individual but the land was not in their name. The government says this leaves a sword hanging over their heads all the time. More than 3,000 such homes lie before gram panchayats and municipalities. Going by the numbers, ownership documents are in possession of the occupant in hardly 50% of homes in registered villages. People are also not able to avail benefits of schemes like Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana because of this. Also, 500 homes in Canacona, South Goa, are facing the prospect of demolition. And that’s why the bill is the need of the hour.
Critics fear that this might act in favour of migrants and encroachers. But the government has noted that it will prioritise and help the locals. In all totality, not everyone who claims to be eligible and applies for ownership rights will be given the rights. There is a separate committee, Bhumiputra Adhikarini, entirely dedicated to this process. They will grant ownership to people. Besides, the earlier owners, private or government, will receive an amount from the applicant equivalent to the value of the land. This way, the owner is also benefited.
On July 27, Sawant noted that the scheme was in his Budget speech for this financial year and so it was only right of him to take it up in the current session. Even though the government has passed the bill, it is now ready to consider alternatives and make amendments. Isn’t it a positive sign?
The bill has already taken into account two suggestions. Earlier, it was called the Goa Bhumiputra Adhikarini Bill, 2021. But people claimed that the use of ‘bhumiputra’ affected the sentiments of tribal people in the state. Following this, CM declared that the word will be dropped.
Another major amendment is the inclusion of another criterion. On August 3, Sawant announced that only those who have electricity and water connections in their names can avail the ownership. This solves the problem of the bill being in favour of tenants and those with lease agreements.
The government has not withdrawn the bill. But given that the bill is open for recommendations, it will not be assented by the Governor or President. Additionally, CM has assured that they would reconsider the bill and bring an amended version in the next session of the assembly. The assembly will take place in a month or so and it will decide the fate of this bill.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
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🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Costly apples (Himachal Pradesh) – The apple garden of India is beyond disappointed during this apple season. The reduced rate of the fruit is hitting them hard. A few days ago, they made almost ₹100-150/kg of premium apples. But the same is now being sold at ₹30-70. Apples of B and C grade are getting sold at much lesser prices. All of this is because the Adani Agri Fresh fixed the prices of supreme quality apples at ₹72/kg and the lower varieties at ₹12/kg. If a big company is selling apples at lower rates, the mandis are definitely expected to reduce their prices. As a last resort, the farmers are seeking help from the Centre. We hope the situation is resolved and the apple cultivators are as happy as the buyers.
Missing urea (Manipur) – A quick look into school textbooks tells us that urea is an important fertilizer that helps in plant growth. So of course, the Centre needs to allot bags of urea to the state farmers. As per this logic, Manipur has received 4,44,000 bags of urea. But the farmers still complain of shortage. Fun fact: the state has actually been allotted nearly two lakh extra bags. Where did the urea bags vanish? Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has accused the state government of diverting the urea to increase poppy cultivation. This allegation means the state is looting supplies from the Centre to promote opium production. While the state government has strongly denied this, we still don’t know where the missing urea is.
Meaty solutions (Andhra Pradesh) – No amount of awareness is stopping people from using plastic bags. To put an end to this, the municipal body of Guntur came up with an idea. They have asked all meat shop owners to give discounts to those who carry cloth bags. If you go to a shop with your own cloth bag, you will get a discount of ₹10/kg of chicken and ₹20/kg of mutton. While that might not seem much, it’s an incentive to make you environmentally conscious. So discard your plastic bags and pick up good alternatives!
Finally in charge (West Bengal) – A state’s Director General of Police holds a lot of power and responsibility. But to select an efficient leader is in the hands of the government. Senior officer Manoj Malaviya has been appointed as the new acting DGP of Bengal. Behind the scenes of this appointment, for over two months, West Bengal and the Union Public Service Commission have been in a tiff to choose the right candidate. Usually, the state proposes a list of eligible officers to the UPSC. The state was repeatedly accused of sending lists with several discrepancies. After submitting three lists, the UPSC finally decided on Manoj as the ideal choice.
Prohibited chocolate (Maharashtra) – When it comes to chocolates, love is in the air. People across ages eat chocolates and enjoy doing so. But a recent crackdown by the excise department seized imported liquor chocolates worth ₹4.31 lakh in areas around Mumbai. Apparently, the state does not permit liquor to be sold or consumed in the form of chocolates. This is because Maharashtra wants to protect children and minors from consuming alcohol at a mass level and suffering from the side effects. While that is a commendable thought, does this mean nobody should eat liquor chocolates?
🔢 KEY NUMBER
20.1% – Indian economy rises by 20.1% in the first quarter of the ongoing FY2021-22. With the GDP accelerating despite the lethal second wave, the hope to see an economic recovery is not far away.