The Sood Commission, set up to probe benami land deals in Himachal Pradesh, has recommended the scrapping of HP Apartment and Property Regulation Act as, it said, "most builders were creating a concrete jungle and spoiling the natural forested environment".
The one-man inquiry commission headed by former high court judge DP Sood asked the state government to either implement Section 118 of the Tenancy and Land Reforms Act in letter and spirit or to repeal it.
Observing that 95% allottees in apartments were outsiders, Sood said, the demand of housing for Himachalis could easily be met by Himachal Urban Development Authority (HIMUDA).
The Act was meant to regulate colonies and property transactions, check haphazard constructions, registration of promoters, promotion of construction, sale, transfer and management of apartments on ownership basis.
But as most builders are creating a concrete jungle, the act should be withdrawn immediately and all construction activities and their control be handed over to HIMUDA, the Commission said in its 147-page report.
Section 118 was a unique provision that barred all non-agriculturist Himachalis, including bona fide Himachalis, from purchasing any land in the state without the permission of the government.
All transactions in violation of this section are construed as "benami land deals".
The commission has conveyed strong displeasure over how prime land in the state was sold to non-agriculturists and outsiders with the consent of the government and its officials.
It has recommended confiscation of at least 42 illegally acquired proprieties by certain individuals and firms between 2006 and 2007.
Taking cognisance of the fact that river beds and rocky slopes were allowed to be used for commercial purposes in the state, the Commission in its report observed that callous and un-pragmatic attitude of authorities was the root cause of pollution of rivers and habitation on the river bed.
Expressing concern over violations of environment protection laws, the Commission said: "Forests are vanishing, rock blasts are traumatising wild animals and debris is filling up riverbeds with builders having a field day in Himachal Pradesh."
Pointing out that the natural flow of water should not be obstructed, the Commission said: "It is a criminal offence not to visualise the after-effects of tampering with the river bed".