SRINAGAR: Acting on complaints of large scale irregularities in the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, better known as Roshni Act, under which high-value land in Jammu and Srinagar districts were being obtained fraudulently, Governor Satya Pal Malik on Friday ordered the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to probe all such dealings.
Passed in 2001, the Roshni Act envisaged the transfer of ownership rights of state land to its occupants against a price to be determined by the government.
The government set 1990 as the cutoff period for encroachment on state land. Its target was to earn Rs 25,000 crore by transferring 20 lakh kanal (one-eighth of an acre) of state land to the existing occupants against payment at market rates.
The state government had hoped the revenue earned would be spent on commissioning hydroelectric power projects, hence the name 'Roshni'.
The cutoff date was relaxed to 2004 and later to 2007. The government also gave ownership rights of agricultural lands to farmers occupying them for free, charging them only Rs 100 per kanal as documentation fee.
However, against the Rs 25,000 crore aimed to be generated, the returns had drastically come down to a meagre Rs 6,000 crore.
According to an official statement, while the intention of the Act was noble, a large number of complaints were being received on the irregularities or fraudulent implementation of the Act.
There were also reports that high value land in the districts of Jammu and Srinagar were being obtained irregularly or fraudulently by individuals otherwise not entitled for any benefit under the Act.
Based on these reports, the government, under the direction of the Governor, had repealed the Roshni Act prospectively in 2018 and stopped all further proceedings under the Act to ensure that no fraud takes place.
However, as reports continue to pour in about past irregularities, particularly in Jammu and Srinagar, Governor Malik has decided to launch a full-fledged campaign against the corrupt and referred the probe to the Anti Corruption Bureau.
The ACB has been instructed to conclude the proceedings speedily and ensure that the offenders, particularly the beneficiaries, are brought to book quickly.