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Section 144 CrPC clamped in Ambootia Tea Estate over land dispute

Section 144 CrPC clamped in Ambootia Tea Estate over land dispute
The Darjeeling district administration on Tuesday clamped section 144 CrPC on a plot of 155 acres located in  Ambootia Tea Estate under Kurseong sub-division.
The plot is mired in a dispute.  Kurseong SDO U Swaroop said, “The 155 acres of land is disputed with both the cinchona plantation and Ambatay estate claiming ownership of it. We have imposed the prohibitory order to ensure no law and order problem ensues and the stay order will be in force till the next 60 days.”
He, however, said a meeting would be called within the next few days to verify both claims and to resolve the issue.
According to Samuel Rai, the director of the Cinchona Plantation, the 155 acres were transferred to the plantation by the state government in 1976 after the plot was brought under the ownership of the commerce and industry department.
“The land is an isolated block at Ambatay that was reclaimed by the state government and transferred to the Directorate in 1976 and we started cinchona cultivation thereafter. As part of our expansion plans, we had cleared six acres of land in March this year, but in July we found Ambatay tea estate had already planted tea saplings there,” alleged Rai.
Presently, cinchona is being cultivated in 34 acres of the dispute plot, while 58 acres is forested and 40 acres have bamboo groves. All this is being done by the Directorate under the state project on utilisation of raw materials from wild resources.
“Our contention is that any transfer of government property can only be executed through a notice and prior communication with the current holding agency has not been followed in this case,” Rai said.
He pointed out that the Block Land and Land Reforms department had communicated only recently that the 155 acres belonged to Hrithik Investment Private Limited, a sister concern of Ambatay Tea Estate.
“After we started our expansion process, the BLLR department informed us the land had been sold to the tea company in 2006,” said the cinchona director.
The management of Hrithik Investment said the 155 acres belonged to them, when contacted.
“We have followed all legal procedures and acquired the land from the state government in 2006 for tea plantation activity. We have all the documents to prove our claim and as such there are no disputes,” said Anil Bansal, plantation director of the private company, adding expansion of the tea garden would go ahead as planned. (EOIC)

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