BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit asked the Governor’s administration Monday, to hold an inquiry to identify those who got hundreds of kanals of state land regularised in their favour under the garb of much-hyped Roshni Act, adding that merely repealing it was not substantial.
Alleging misuse of the Roshni Act so as to benefit politicians and affluent people who were in illegal occupation of government land, BJP’s state spokesperson Balbir Ram Rattan said” “Repealing Roshni Act is not enough, but a thorough inquiry is must to expose the beneficiaries and taking back the land regularised in their favour. The then state government had enacted Roshni Act on the plea of earning Rs 25,000 crore through the transfer of 20 lakh kanals of land to its illegal occupants, he said, adding that only Rs 76 crore were realised between 2007 and 2013.
The people “should know as to which political party was in power in the state during the period and for whom Roshni Act was misused as a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General has also pointed out irregularities into its implementation benefiting politicians and affluent people’’, he said.
Rattan stated that although BJP appreciates Governor’s decision to repeal Roshni Act, a high powered committee needs to be constituted to identify the said politicians and affluent beneficiaries, book them under the law and get the land vacated from them.
Governor Satya Pal Malik’s administration had repealed the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 in November saying that it “failed to realise the desired objectives and there were also reports of misuse of some its provisions”.
The administration ordered the cancellation of all pending applications seeking transfer of ownership of state land to unauthorised occupants subject to the payment of land cost fixed by the state government. However, the decision will not be implemented in cases where ownership of land has already been transferred under the legislation — also called the Roshni Act.
The Roshni Act was enacted in 2001 by the Ghulam Nabi Azad-led Congress-PDP coalition government with the twin objective of generating resources for power projects and to confer proprietary rights to occupants of state land subject to payment of land cost fixed by the government.
The Act initially envisaged conferment of proprietary rights of around 20.55 lakh kanals of state land to occupants, but only 15.85 per cent of it was approved for vesting of ownership rights. “Against the expected revenue from such occupants, the funds actually generated had been meagre thereby failing to realise the objective of the scheme,” a release said.
The decision had come nearly a fortnight after the J&K High Court restrained beneficiaries from selling or conducting any transaction with respect to the land transferred to them under the Roshni Act. A PIL was filed by Ankur Sharma, an advocate and chairman of Ikkjutt Jammu, who saw a conspiracy to change the demography of pre-dominantly Hindu inhabited areas of Jammu region.
Justifying its decision to repeal the Act, the State Administrative Council cited the pending PIL and the High Court order in the matter.
The demand to repeal Roshni Act gained momentum after then CM Mehbooba Mufti on February 14 ordered that the tribal population not be dislocated until the formulation of a formal tribal policy. Mufti’s order came in the wake of complaints from nomadic Gujjars and Bakerwals about undue harassment due to continued eviction drives by the forest department.