Other States

J&K land encroachers become owners of large tracts of land

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has expressed shock over the manner in which land encroachers in the Union Territory have become owners of large tracts of public land under the now defunct Roshni Scheme.

A Bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan directed the Union Territory administration to calculate the value of the public land which has been illegally encroached under the scheme.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, known as the “Roshni Scheme” was enacted in 2001 by the then State government.

The objective of the Act was “to provide vesting of ownership rights to the occupants of the State land for the purposes of generating funds to finance power projects in the State”.

CAG report

A 2014 CAG report had stated that the “principle objective of the Act viz. raising of resources for investment in the power sector was not achieved though the State has lost sizeable land”.

The CAG report said that the government had set a target of around ₹25,000 crore for the power project by selling 20,64,972 kanals State land. However, by 2013 it had collected only about ₹76 crore in the actual transfer of 3,48,160 kanals of land.

“Further, after transfer of 3,48,160 kanals under the Act, new encroachments are continuing unabated as the area of public land under encroachment was 20,46,972 kanals in March, 2013 as against 20,64,972 kanals in November, 2006,” the CAG report said.

Subsequently, the scheme was repealed in November 2018 by the State Administrative Council (SAC) led by the Governor after concluding that it had not served “its purpose” and was “no longer relevant in the present context”.

List of beneficiaries

The High Court, which was hearing a petition filed in public interest by a law student seeking recovery of the illegally encroached land, has also indicated that it will order publication of the names of all the beneficiaries under the Roshni Scheme, which now runs at 29,500.

The complete list of beneficiaries were furnished before the High Court only after it had warned that the Secretary, Revenue Department, shall remain personally present in court.

“This status report reveals shocking state of affairs which had prevailed and the manner in which the land encroachers in Jammu and Kashmir have become owners of large tracts of public land by the operation of the Roshni Scheme,” the High Court remarked.

It also noted that the plea for a CBI inquiry into the case “cannot be ignored under any circumstances and shall be examined on the next date of hearing” on March 12.

The petitioner Mr. Ankur Sharma has citing CAG report claimed that implementation of the Roshni Scheme has resulted in a loss over ₹25,000 crore to the public exchequer.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 2:23:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/jk-land-encroachers-become-owners-of-large-tracts-of-land/article30884847.ece

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