Prime plots under commercial use transferred to trusts at rebate prices : CAG

Jammu: The Comptroller and Auditor General has said that prime land in Jammu and Kashmir was transferred at concessional rate to various trusts though the plots were under commercial use, causing huge losses to the state exchequer.
“It was observed that (prime) lands in Srinagar were transferred to Khidmat Trust (7 kanals, 15 marlas and 84 square feet at Kothibagh) and Nawai-e-Subah Trust (3 kanalas, 16 marlas at Zero Bridge) at concessional rate applicable to lands under institutional use though the lands were under commercial use”, the CAG report tabled in the state legislature’s recently concluded Budget Session, said.
CAG further said, “The market rate fixed by the committee for the lands was Rs 110 lakh per kanal in case of Khidmat trust and was Rs 120 lakh per kanal in case of Nawai-e-Subah Trust. But these were rebated by 85 per cent and transferred at Rs 16 lakh per kanal and Rs 18 lakh per kanal (to these trusts)”.
“Thus, lands valued by the committees (Price Committee headed by the Kashmir Divisional Commissioner) at Rs 13.10 crore were approved for transfer at a price of Rs 1.97 crore against which Rs 1.47 crore had been collected”, the report said.
The report pointing to the then government of Ghulam Nabi Azad for alleged irregularities in land transfer under JK Roshni Act said, “Properties are being used for commercial purposes and Rule 13 of Roshni Rules 2007, provide application of commercial rates even if only a part of the land is used for commercial purposes”.
“In contravention of the said provisions of the Act, lands were transferred to seven ‘institutional entities’ in Srinagar with no safeguards…”, the report said.
The Section 12 of the amended Roshni Act 2007 contemplated that the land under ‘institutional use’ could be allowed to be transferred even in excess of 10 kanals to unauthorised occupants. However, rules framed by the then government (under Azad rule) expanded the scope of concessions available to occupants of lands under institutional use, the CAG said.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Revenue Ajaz Ahmed Khan has defended the former Azad government in the wake of CAG’s claim that it framed rules in violation of the Roshni Act.
Hitting out at the CAG, the Congress minister said that its report, which forms the basis of the allegations, was “speculative”.
He added that the State Vigilance Organisation had already started a probe into the matter and the J & K government would cooperate with the same.
The auditing body further claimed that provision of rebates, incentives and penalties were not in consonance with provisions of Roshni Act.
The buildings of these trusts are leased out to various commercial establishments. The five-storeyed building also serve as the headquarters for two political parties’ official organs.
The CAG has alleged irregularities in transfer of encroached land to occupants in J&K from 2007 during Azad’s rule, saying the state government realised just Rs 76 crore against a target of Rs 25,448 crore, defeating the purpose of the legislation to raise resources for investment in power sector.
In its report, the CAG has found alleged irregularities in implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, also known as the ‘Roshni Act’, which came into effect on March 1, 2002 and later amended in 2004 and 2007.
“The government had estimated (November, 2006) that total state land was 1,25,03,973 kanals of which 20,64,972 kanals with estimated value Rs 25,448 crore was under encroachment,” the report said.
The CAG, however, observed that only Rs 76.24 crore (24 per cent) reportedly realised against a demand of Rs 317.54 crore raised by the end of March, 2013 against the actual transfer of 3,48,160 kanals land in the state.
“Thus, the principal objective of the Act, viz, raising of resources for investment in power sector was not achieved though the state has lost sizeable lands”, the CAG said.
State Principal Accountant General, Subash Chandra Pandey on Saturday criticised an earlier administration for making rules in contravention and violation of the law.
“Possibly, yes,” he told reporters when asked about reports that it could be the “biggest scam” in the state. “The state government has estimated such lands for Rs 25,000 crore in 2006. Today you can yourself think of the value of this land.
“There is a loss of Rs 225 crore in 547 test check cases in a land area of 666 kanals alloted by the government. The scheme has been totally flop. Government had expectations of raising over Rs 25,000 crore but the fact is that even they have not got Rs 100 crore,” Pandey said.
But the problem started in 2007 when the then government (headed by Azad) framed rules in total violation and contravention to the Roshni Act and down-graded it, he alleged adding that as result, more encroachments may have taken place and administration did not apply its mind on it.
“Yes the substantial deviations in the rules from the Act happened in 2007 (during Azad’s rule),” he said.