CAG Finds Irregularities in Land Transfer Under J&K Roshni Act

CAG Finds Irregularities in Land Transfer Under J&K Roshni Act

The CAG has alleged irregularities in transfer of encroached land to occupants in Jammu and Kashmir from 2007 to 2013, 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 a report tabled in the Assembly, the CAG has found 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 realized 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", CAG said.

The CAG said implementation of the Roshni Act and the rules framed there under was examined by Audit between November 2012 and July 2013 to check for any deficiency or irregularities.

It also said that CAG faced difficulties in getting full information, records despite writing a series of letters to the Revenue Department in this regard during the audit period.

"With this constraint, audit was conducted through a test-check of records of the offices of Deputy Commissioners in seven out of 20 districts in which the Act was implemented.

"The records were test checked in Srinagar, Jammu, Udhampur, Anantnag, Pulwama and Budgam districts and 547 cases involving transfer of 666 kanals of non-agricultural lands were examined in detail," it said.

The State Vigilance officers had recently booked liquor baron Bansi Lal Gupta and some (IAS) officers of Revenue Department in connection with registration of prime land of Jammu Development Authority (JDA) in Roshni land scam.

According to the CAG report for year ended March 31, 2013 the Section 8(2) of Roshni Act stipulate that total land in possession of any person or a family including the land vested in such person or a family under the Act shall not exceed the limit of 100 kanals.

However, the rules provided for transfers of all agricultural lands to be free of cost, which is beyond the scope, objectives and mandatory provisions of the Act. Hence, all transfers of agricultural lands under the Act become illegal, it said.

The report said that a major portion (3,40,091 kanals) has been categorised as 'agricultural' and hence transferred free of cost in violation of this section of the Act.

It was observed that only Rs 76.24 crore (24 per cent) reportedly realized against a demand of Rs 317.54 crore raised by the end of March 2013 in the actual transfer of 3,48,160 kanals in the state, CAG said.

"The Balance is residential use (6949 kanals), commercial use (990 kanals) and institutional use (130 kanals). In 547 cases covering revenue of 31.53 per cent (Rs 100.12 crore out of Rs 317.54 crore) of the total transfers approved in the state and 0.19 per cent of land i.E. 666 kanals out of 3,48,160 kanals of land, the statutory committees had fixed the price at Rs 325.39 crore at an average rate of Rs 48.86 lakh per kanal (before allowing rebates and incentives)," it said.

The CAG observed that after allowing the discounts over the land price fixed by the statutory committees, the applicants were asked to pay only Rs 100.12 crore.

Thus, there was a loss of Rs 225.26 crore to the state exchequer, further, after transfer of 3,48,160 kanals under the Act, new encroachments are continuing unabated as area of public lands under encroachment was 20,46,436 kanals in March 2013 as against 20,64,972 kanals in November 2006, it said.

The government had notified rules on 25 August, 2005, and later amended on November 23, 2006 and March 5, 2007.

The objective of the Roshini Act was to generate funds to finance power projects in the state by granting ownership on state lands at market value to such permanent residents (natural persons or companies, fulfilling conditions under governing law) of the state of JK, who were authorised occupants (lease/grant holders) or unauthorised occupants of state lands on a particular date and public auction of vacant state lands.

"Roshni Act is a special type of legislation concerning rights of permanent residents of the state requiring 2/3rd majority of total membership of each House of the Legislature under Article 9(b) of the Constitution of J&K. The Act provided that the rules were not required to be approved by the Legislature," CAG report said.

Hence, the authorisation to the government to make rules 'for carrying into effect the purposes of this Act' cast a special responsibility of due diligence on the government in making the rules. Audit found that the rules made by the government contained provisions that were contrary to the scope and objectives of the Act and hence irregular, it observed.

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