GUWAHATI: The Assam government has informed the Gauhati High Court that it has notified the establishment of public land protection cells (PLPCs) for three different categories — rural areas, municipal areas other than Guwahati, and Guwahati municipal area.

“Learned Advocate General has placed on record the notification dated May 24, 2023 issued by the revenue and disaster management department, settlement branch, Assam, as per which, public land protection cells (PLPCs) have been notified for the three different categories,” the High Court said.

It was further told that the cells have been empowered to redress the grievances related to encroachments over pasture land, catchment areas, ponds, rivers, lakes, public places and burial grounds, etc.

“We feel that with the constitution of these cells, the grievances of public at large pertaining to encroachments upon these categories of land would be redressed at the earliest and the litigants would not be compelled to rush to the courts,” the division bench of Chief Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Suman Shyam observed.

“We appreciate the efforts made by the state government in issuing the notification with the hope and trust that the cells will function efficiently,” the High Court observed.

Earlier, the court in another PIL had directed Assam government to issue the requisite notification for formation of PLPC in each district to deal with complaints pertaining to encroachments on government land.

The order was passed after the petitioners had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) alleging illegal encroachment by some persons on government land in a village of Nagaon district which was in possession of the water resources department since 1955-56.

The petitioners asserted in the writ petition that before approaching the court, numerous complaints were filed in connection with illegal encroachment but to no avail.

Subsequently the petitioners were compelled to approach the court by way of the petition seeking issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the respondent authorities to take appropriate action against the illegal occupants on government land and to demolish structures raised on the plot.

The court directed the present petitioner, who has raised grievances of encroachment upon Kabarsthan land, to approach the PLPC concerned for ventilating his grievances. 

“The petitioner who has raised grievances of encroachment upon Kabarsthan land is relegated to approach the PLPC concerned for ventilating his grievances,” it said.

It further said that the PLPC shall address the grievance of the petitioner in light of the notification and hear the parties concerned before taking any action of dispossession, etc.

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“The complaint may be filed by the petitioner along with the copy of this order within a period of 15 days whereupon the PLPC after hearing all the parties concerned and making the necessary enquiries, shall decide the same by a reasoned order within a period of three months from the date of receipt thereof,” the court observed.

“In case, the petitioner is aggrieved of the reason so passed, the petitioner shall be at liberty to assail such order as per law,” it said, while disposing of the PIL.

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