CAG tears apart J&K’s Roshni scheme

JAMMU: The much hyped Roshni Scheme in Jammu and Kashmir has come under severe criticism from the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India, saying that “all transfers of agricultural land under the act become illegal.”
The CAG report on Revenue Sector and Public Sector Undertakings (social, general and economic sectors) for the year ended March 31, 2013 was tabled in both the Houses of the state legislature on Tuesday by Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather.
The auditor in its report said an audit of the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (vesting of ownership to the occupants) Act 2001 (Roshni Act) showed the major deficiencies.
It said the principal objective of the act was to raise resources for investment in power sector and the government had estimated resource mobilization of Rs 25,448 crore by selling 20,64,792 Kanals state land under unauthorized occupation. Only Rs 76.24 crore was realized against a demand of Rs 317.54 crore raised in the actual transfers of 3,48,160 kanals of land in the state.
The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (vesting of ownership to the occupants) Act came in to effect from March 1, 2002 during the tenure of Ghulam Nabi Azad and the act was equated with the “Land to Tiller” of 1950’s by the then prime minister of J&K, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah.
The implementation of the Roshni Act and the rules framed there under was examined by audit between November 2012 and July 2013 to assess whether there was any deficiency in the formulation of rules for the implementation of the act and also irregularities in the implementation of act, CAG said.
“Audit faced difficulties in getting full information and records despite writing a series of letters to the Revenue Department in this regard during the period of audit,” it said.
With this constraint, it said, audit was conducted through a test check of records of the offices of deputy commissioners in seven out of 20 districts in which the act was implemented.
The auditor also said that it was found that the rules made by the government contained provisions that were contrary to the scope and objectives of the act and hence irregular.
It also said transfer of agriculture lands free-of-cost is against the provisions of the act.
The rules provided for transfers of all agricultural lands to be free of cost, which is beyond the scope, objectives and mandatory provisions of the act, it said.
“Hence, all transfers of agricultural land under the act become illegal,” the report reads.
The auditor has also said that the provisions of rebates, incentives and penalties were not in consonance with provisions of act.
‘Irregular allowance of rebate and discounts in transfer of 666 Kanals of land resulted in loss of Rs 225.26 crore to government exchequer, in 547 checked cases,” the CAG said.