The Bold Voice of J&K

Has Roshni Scheme-ACT No XII of 2001 been unfairly treated disreputing even All Administration & J&K Legislature ?

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Daya Sagar

Ghulam Nabi Azad, the then Chief Minister of J&K State had said while addressing a public meeting at R.S. Pura on 25 September 2007 that 21 Lakh kanal land is being given to poor farmers at a price of Rs.100 per kanal .Surely that lands were under encroachments and figure had been quoted by the then Chief Minister as had been worked out by revenue department for information of Chief Minister. .The then Government and J&K Legislature had accordingly operated upon the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) act, 2001 Act No. XII of 2001 and made the required changes by further amending the Act and the rules in 2007 where under it was decided to give ownership rights of the occupied lands at the cost of Rs. Zero per Kanal to occupants where the land was being used for cultivation with the conditions that (a) the land use in respect of agricultural land shall not be changed after the ownership is vested (b) the land in question should have been in cultivation at least for three years on the date of application (c) no transfer of Agricultural land other than by inheritance shall be permitted for 10 years from the date of conferment of ownership rights. The then Congress Government had equated the governments action with the “Land to Tiller” scheme of erstwhile Government headed by Sheikh Mohd Abdullah in 1950s {Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, SVT. 2007 (1950 A. D.) (Act No. XVII of 2007}. To other occupants {“Occupant” means a person who is in actual physical possession of any State land on the commencement of the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) (Amendment) Act, 2004, personally or through an authorized agent; } the ownership rights were given on cost as fixed by committee. So under the Act of 2001 as amended through 2007 not only a few urban influential people from trade or from administration or political arena thousands of families / individuals from among the permanent residents of J&K state were going to be covered.
All ownership rights of lands that had been given upto 2013 , the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) ACT, 2001 Act No. XII of 2001 with amendments as made by Act No. XVI of 2004 w.e.f. 21-05-2004 & by Act III of 2007 wef 20th November, 2006 and the Governors Act of 28 -112018 had been held void by the order o-f J&K High Court as Pronounced on: 09 .10.2020 in IA No. 48/2014 & CM Nos. 4036, 4065 of 2020 in PIL No.19/2011 Prf S.K Bhalla Petitioner(s)/Appellant(s) Vs State of J&K and others ( Respondents).
Though late senior J&K leader, President of Democratic Azad party and ex J&K Chief Minister Ghulam Nazi Azad who surely well knew the units of the J&K Permanent Resident Community , including thousands of small cultivators and even some residential lease holders even of the times of 1950s/1960s who had been affected by the developments in 2020 Oct has been saying while addressing public meetings like the one in R.S. Pura as reported by PTI on 23 -12-2023 that he would restore the Roshni scheme if his party is voted to power in Jammu and Kashmir saying “My priority is to get back the Roshni scheme since it was largely benefiting people. Its abolition has dented the economic prosperity of the people,” How meaningful it would have been had Mr. Azad / his then Party would have become a party when the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 Act No. XII of 2001 was made to tie with already going on PIL on encroachments in J&K High court may more information about the cases pertaining to Roshni scheme would have come before the court and the status would not have been like the one where the repute of J&K Legislature/J&K Administration/ J&K Revenue department / thousands of genuine unauthorized small occupants / lease holders would not have been unduly maligned since may be before J&K High Court the scheme / Legislature was not well defended in 2020. Why should Ghulam Nabi Azad waid for getting into government, he can still find legal remedies in facts that thousands of affected beneficiaries were not made party in the case..
In 2001 it was estimated that govt lands under unauthorized occupations may be around 20,00000 kanals and that would given to occupants where from about Rs.25000 Cr would be available for financing power projects but with the changed objects of the government it was estimated during 2007 that around 17 Lakh kanal was agriculture land so on that basis the estimated amount that could be realised was surely to be reduced by around Rs.21080 Cr making the estimated recoveries to fall from Rs.25000 Cr to below Rs.4000 Cr even if all 20 Lakh Kanal land ( nearly 3 Lakh Kanal non Agri and 17 Lakh Agri lands ) were transferred to occupants where as in terms of CAG report tabled in J&K Legislative Assembly in March 2014 only 3,48,160 kanals Kanals of land {nearly 0.08 Lakh Kanal non Agri land (6949 kanals residential use, 990 kanals commercial use, 130 kanals lands in urban areas/ town out of 0.08 Lakh kanal ) and 3,40,091 kanals Agri land } out of 20 Lakh Kanal had been cleared in seven years (from 2007 to 2013) by Revenue Department for giving ownership rights to those occupying government lands. No doubt there could be a few cases where wrong or favoured identification of occupant / category of land might have been done but that cannot be attributed in general as wrong intentions of all the officers of revenue department / Administration and even the Legislature as have been the general comments / observations from segments on the framers of the said Act / the Administration implementing the said Act on ground / or the beneficiaries of the said Act and more so naming the Act in 2020 as Rs. 25000 Cr land scam after a Judgement of J&K High Court in a PIL. To be continued
(The writer is Sr Journalist and social activist)

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