The Bold Voice of J&K

Why revenue against J&K State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants ) Act of 2001 has been Low ?

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  • How fair was it to name the “Roshni Act 2001” as amended upto 2007 a Rs 25000 Cr Scam ?
  • Not fair to fix Low revenue recovery in the name of bad intentions of then Cabinet/ Legislators /all Revenue Officers

DAYA SAGAR

During the times of PDP-Congress Government J&K Assembly passed the amendment to The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act of 2001 after 2004 amendment was once again amended on February 9th , 2007 observing that Bill will provide free of cost ownership of 16.6 lakh kanals ( benefitting 19 lakh permanent resident of J&K holding unauthorized possession of state lands and doing cultivation there on ) to farmers as agricultural land with the condition that land will not be allowed to be changed. It was also provided in the Act that rules will be made by government and rules were not required to be approved by the legislature reference of which was also made in the CAG report on J&K for period ending 31 Mar 2013 para 2.7.2.1 on page 38 . The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act of 2001 as amended on February 9th , 2007 had come under more controversies after a CAG report on J&K was tabled in the Legislature in march 2014 .
When the said act was passed by Legislature in 2002 the government had set the objective for generation of revenue out of grant of ownership rights of encroached state lands estimated around 20Lakh Kanal ( CAG on J&K report for period ending 31 Mar 2013 in para 2.7 on page 38 says Government had estimated , Nov 2006, estimated total state land was 12503973 Kanals of which 2064972 kanals, estimated value Rs.25448Cr) was under encroachment ) for use on installation of Power Generation Projects. The new government after 2002 had changed the end objective in a way more as ‘welfare’ of the rural population where it was expected by government that large mass ( say 85 percent) out of app 20 Lakh Kanal of the encroached lands was under agriculture use, average land per capita may be just one Kanal or so, which will be given for agriculture at zero cost with the condition that in case any time land use is changed the owner will have to pay the market price. So the revenue estimated in 2006 was surely to be reduced drastically in 2007 to as low as less than max Rs. 4000 – 5000Cr only and the Permanent Residents of J&K to be benefitted included thousands of commoners and only a influential politicians/ local people/ bureaucrats.
Accountant General Audit (PAG) J&K Subhash Chander Pandey had told media on 8th March 2014 that the ‘Roshni Act 2001’ was amended in 2004 and a clause, which had maintained that the land was not allotted to those who have encroached from 1990, was deleted and benefit of this amendment could be taken by law knowing people and ‘insiders’ and it lead to more encroachment on the land. Yes The cutoff date for encroachment had been changed from 1990 to 2004. The audit had expressed serious concern for the low generation of the revenue in comparison to what was targeted in2001, No doubt the revenue generated upto 2013 was much less as compared to what was targeted in 2001-02 ( Rs.25000 Cr. The Audit had ignored the facts like (i) the objective had been changed by the government /legislature in 2007 more as something like ‘land to tiller’ there by the total expected revenue would have fallen to around Rs.4000 Cr (ii) the cases for grant of ownership had been upto 2013 only for around 16 to 17 percent of the estimated encroached state lands and over 97.7 percent of which was given at zero cost ( 3.4 Lakh Kanal out of 3.48 Lakh Kanal ( iii) The 0.8 Lakh Kanal of non agri land included even the lands given of long lease like 40/50 yr residential/ other lease in 1950s/1960s and even some beneficiaries had represented against the price demanded for converting the lease to ownership ( the Audit report in Table 2.7.1 page 48 mentions that average rate of land per kanal fixed by committees in Lakhs per kanal has been Rs.48.86 per kanal on State basis, Rs.56-09 Lakh per kanal in Jammu District and Rs.57-76 Lakh Per kanal in Srinagar ) in comparison to price being charged in 2001/2007 by JK Housing Board for giving freehold rights to 20 yr housing lease holders or extension of lease. (iv) Similarly though the Audit had said that with change of cutoff date more lands could have been encroached but Audit had not particularly pointed in the report that how much land had been given ownership rights that had been shown by Revenue department encroached from 1990 to 2004.(v) Further since more land ( almost all) was given as Agri land free of cost in rural areas there could be cases for wrong verification of title so need was more for test check audit for Agri Lands but Audit had only gone for particular test check on non Agri lands .
To be continued …..
(The writer is Sr Journalist, social activist and analyst J&K affairs).

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