Recently the State Law Commission has recommended retrieval of land transferred under Roshni Scheme in the state. The High Court has also taken cognisance of the encroachments on the state land, particularly the forest land. The Law Commission has rightly described the Roshni Scheme as proverbial “the fence swallowing the crop”.
Even though the scheme was designed in 2001 but Azad Government ensured its application in 2007. The policy was termed as a historical achievement. In fact, it turned out to be a weapon in the hands of land mafia to usurp public land. The big sharks in politics, administration and otherwise reportedly got prime land across the state, particularly in Jammu registered in their names against peanuts. Recent media reports also suggested that it has been used as a tool to force demographic change in Jammu.
While the government is mandated to protect the state assets and punish the violators, Roshni act was designed to reward the violators. The UT administration has started a process to identify the state land and ensure its retrieval. There are media reports that large chunk of such land has been retrieved across the UT. The process needs to be taken to logical end. There is urgent need to follow the recommendations of the Law Commission in this regard.
It will not be out of place to mention that a large chunk of land in Jammu city and its outskirts, along natural flood channels, was allowed to be grabbed by the mafia and palatial bungalows have been built along the banks of such flood channels. The ERA was entrusted to concretise the natural flood channels and built embankments along the channels. As a result the flood channels shrunk and a large chunk along both the banks was exposed for easy encroachments. The grabbers availed the opportunity and it is alleged that such encroachments have been legalised through Roshni Scheme. As such the UT administration shall look into the issue in a broader perspective to retrieve the state land and punish the culprits.