Top PDP minister in Roshni muddle, regularized ‘illegal land’ by paying peanuts

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A top PDP minister is in soup for having managed to get one kanal land regularized by paying a paltry sum under Roshni scheme.

According to an official document, a copy of which is with Newspoint Bureau, this PDP minister who is regarded as thing tank of PDP managed not only to get illegally occupied state land regularized on his name, but also ensured that he does not pay the actual price of the land.

According to the document available with Newspoint Bureau, this PDP minister was in occupation of one kanal of state land in Gogji Bagh area of Kashmir valley. Being one of the posh localities of Kashmir valley, the cost of land in this area is around Rs 6 lakhs per marla, so if the market rate is taken into account this PDP minister was supposed to pay Rs 1.20 crores, but he paid just Rs 7 lakhs and got the land regularized as well as transferred on his name.

If the records are to be believed, this PDP minister was supposed to pay around Rs 70 lakhs after being given all the relaxations that are there under the Roshni scheme. It is a matter of probe as to how this huge difference in the payment was allowed. PDP leader was given rebate by a committee which was headed by the then divisional commissioner of Kashmir and included some of the top revenue officials of the state.

Not only this PDP minister, Newspoint Bureau is in possession of a list of several top ranking business houses, serving as well as retired bureaucrats, ministers, MLAs, MLCs, Ex- ministers, Hurriyat leaders, all of whom have been given huge rebates for regularization of their illegally held lands over which they have built huge mansions. The list is voluminous and has been generated by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on the basis of audit of the Roshni scheme.

Comptroller and Auditor General had estimated a Rs 25,000-crore land transfer scam in Jammu and Kashmir, under much-hyped Roshni scheme, making it the biggest ever such scandal in the state. The scheme, under the Jammu Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, was meant to raise nearly Rs 25,448 crore to finance power projects by selling over 20.64 lakh kanals of state land under unauthorised occupation.

CAG has alleged irregularities in the transfer of the encroached land to occupants from 2007 to 2013, saying only Rs 76 crore had been realised, defeating the purpose of the legislation. Rs 25,000 crore was estimated to have been the cost of such land worked out by then government while enacting the Act, the present value would be much more.

According to CAG, among the beneficiaries of the illegal and irregular deals under the Act were the National Conference’s Nawai Subah Trust and the Congress’s Khidmat Trust. While 7 kanal, 15 marlas and 84 sq ft of land were transferred to Khidmat Trust, 3 kanal and 16 marlas were given to Nawai Subah at Zero Bridge in Srinagar. This land, that was under commercial use, was transferred to the two trusts at concessional rate applicable to land under institutional use.

The statutory committee under the Act fixed market rate of the land at Rs 1.10 crore per kanal in case of the Khidmat Trust and Rs 1.20 crore per kanal in the case of the Nawai Subah Trust. Both were given 85 per cent rebate, with land valued at Rs 13.10 crore transferred for only Rs 1.97 crore. This amount too was not recovered, with only Rs 1.47 crore collected so far.

There had been substantiative deviation from provisions of the Act by successive governments who provided concessions and rebates to benefit encroachers, Pandey said.  The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001, or the Roshni Act, was enacted by the Farooq Abdullah-led National Conference government and came into effect on March 1, 2002. However, it was amended by successive Mufti Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad governments in 2004 and 2007.

In March 2006, the government estimated the total state land at 1,25,03,973 kanals, of which 20,64,972 kanals, valued at Rs 25,448 crore, was under encroachment. The Azad-led Congress-PDP government had amended the scheme from time to time. rview.

Concluding its findings, CAG said that while the principal objective of the Roshni Act was to raise resources for investment in the power sector, this could not be achieved even as 3,40,091 kanals, categorised as agicultural, were transferred to encroachers free of cost. On the other hand, even after the transfer of 3,48,160 kanals of state land to its occupants, new encroachments were continuing unabated.

 

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