Govt says they will be settled after outcome by PAC deliberations, disposal of plea by HC
SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley has nearly double number of cases pending compared to Jammu region under much-hyped Roshni scheme which was meant to raise nearly Rs 25,448 crore to finance power projects by selling over 20.64 lakh kanals of state land under unauthorised occupation.
In a reply to a question by National Conference’s general secretary Ali Mohammad Sagar, Revenue Minister Syed Basharat Bukhari said that Kashmir Valley has 56023 cases pending while Jammu has 25712.
The Roshni scheme has already turned out to be the biggest ever such scandal in the state after the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) pointed out large scale irregularities in the transfer of the encroached land to occupants.
Bukhari said that the cases will be settled only after a report by the Public Account Committee, deliberating upon the CAG report and final disposal of the petition in which challenge has been thrown to the legislation—The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, or the Roshni Act.
“Since various cases decided under the provisions of the J&K State Lands (Vesting of ownership to the Occupants) Act 2001 are under investigation with investigating agencies, as also the CAG report regarding alleged irregularities in implementation of the scheme is under examination with Public Account Committee, no action is presently being taken by the revenue subordinate field functionaries on the cases pending disposal. Moreover the entire legislation is also under challenge before the High Court,” Bukhari said.
He said further action will be taken only after outcome of the deliberations being held by PAC and the final disposal of the case being sub-judice before the High Court.
In its findings, CAG had said that while the principal objective of the Roshni Act was to raise resources for investment in the power sector, this could not be achieved even as 3,40,091 kanals, categorised as agricultural, were transferred to encroachers free of cost. Conversely, it said, new encroachments were continuing unabated.
The legislation was enacted by NC-led government and came into effect on March 1, 2002 and was later amended by successive governments headed by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad in 2004 and 2007.
In March 2006, the government estimated the total state land at 1,25,03,973 kanals of which 20,64,972 kanals, valued at Rs 25,448 crore, was under encroachment.
The scheme has fetched less than Rs 100 crore since its implementation in 2002 with revenue realization in Jammu being meagre Rs 25.026 crores against grant of ownership rights of over two lakh kanals to 39,829 occupants compared to Rs 54.21 crores in Kashmir where 19293 kanal land was granted to 10,328 beneficiaries under the scheme. Last year, in response to a question by a legislator, the government informed the legislative assembly that it has regularized the land holdings of many former and present Ministers under the scheme in Srinagar and Jammu.
They includes former Speaker, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Malik, ex-MLC KK Amla, Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, ex-CM late Ghulam Muhammad Shah, former MLA Irfan Ahmad Shah, former MP, Dr Mehboob Afzal Beg, ex-MLA Prem Sagar, MLC Sham Lal Bhagat, ex-MLA Cham Lal Bhagat, Health Minister Bali Bhagat and former MLA Molvi Abdur Rashid.