Roshni land scam: J&K admn set to post list of beneficiaries on govt website
Pursuant to the high court’s directions regarding the ₹25,000 crore Roshni land scam, the Jammu and Kashmir administration is all set to post the names of beneficiaries, which include influential people including politicians, on the government website, as per an official privy to the development.
HT has a list of around 20 influential people, who allegedly benefitted from the Roshni Act.
They include former ministers and their family members, who are and were associated with PDP, Congress and NC, prominent hotelier from Kashmir, a former bureaucrat and his wife, a former banker from J&K Bank, a former Congress minister from Doda and a former NC minister from Kishtwar.
The administration is already working on cancelling all mutations of land transferred under the ‘unconstitutional’ Roshni Act across the UT. A top administrative official said, “Over the last 30 to 40 years, many people have usurped government and forest land through different means in Jammu and Kashmir. This has been done by enacting laws to regularise lands encroached upon by rich, wealthy and influential people or illegally through brazen encroachment of public land.”
In 2001, the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, was passed to provide ownership of state lands to the people who were occupying such lands. “Under its garb, hundreds of acres of valuable forest and state land across Jammu and Kashmir has been illegally occupied, usurped and encroached upon by politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats and judicial functionaries,” he said.
Roshni Act was introduced in the budget speech of 2000 by then finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather of the National Conference. In the 2005, the PDP government-led by Mufti Mohammed Syed relaxed the cut off year to 2004. The Congress government led by Ghulam Nabi Azad, further relaxed the cut off year to 2007. “The working of the Roshni Act was effected arbitrarily, dishonestly and illegally. There exist glaring instances of state lands being usurped,” said the official.
“A major highlight of the scam was that in 2007, rules were framed under the said Act whereby agricultural land was given away almost free of cost and urban land was given away at discounted prices in the name of rewards, rebates and incentives. Further, the rules allowed usage of agricultural and forest lands for commercial activities, which is against statutory provisions,” he added. A 2014 report by the comptroller and auditor general found that only ₹76 crore had been realised from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, against the targeted ₹25,000 crore.
On November 28, 2018, the then governor Satya Pal Malik had repealed the flawed Act: “Persons in position, power and those with financial resources including bureaucrats, government officials, ministers, legislators, police personnel, business persons etc., have influenced the completely illegal vesting of state lands,” he had said.
“Following the high court order, revenue department officials have been cancelling mutation orders under the Roshni Act. Consequently, a list of 15,000 beneficiaries is being uploaded on the official and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) website after due step-by-step vetting ,” said the official.