Roshni switched off the Roshni Scheme

Plagued with controversies, favouritism, encroachment and violation of several laws, much “hyped” Roshni Act has been repealed by the State Administrative Council in a meeting under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik . It is a thing to be believed that at the time of taking this decision; as many as seventy seven thousand applications were pending to share the booty of the “Sarkari” land which by repealing the Scheme in entirety, had become redundant. This is the same Scheme about which even the premier audit agency of the country, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) had termed as the biggest ever land scam of Jammu and Kashmir. A formal report about such findings was tabled in the state Legislature in the year 2014. The Government, now, can take back huge chunk of occupied land from the applicants as and when need arises.
Earlier, State High Court in a PIL titled Ankur Sharma versus State of Jammu and Kashmir challenging validity of the relevant Act, had directed that the occupants having been conferred upon the proprietary rights shall neither sell these lands nor can raise constructions thereon . The court was apprised that the Act violated the doctrine of equality and created a ‘special class’ of society for conferring undue benefits at the whim and at the will of the political parties.
It will not amount to any sort of hyperbolism that the scheme was an act of a sort of legitimising and justifying grabbing of large chunks of Government land, mostly forest land in complete violation of the rules and that too, backed by an Act of the legislation .The beneficiaries were the most favourites of the “distributors” to get the precious forest and other Government land just for a song, far below the market prices prevailing in the market. There were glaring deficiencies in the formulation of the Rules and also large scale irregularities in the implementation of the Act which have been observed by the supreme audit institution of the country. The unit price “approved” by the designated committee even though equivalent to peanuts differed from occupants to occupants in the same area or locality with intent to confer undue benefits to the occupants of the land etc – is among the chief points of the quintessence of the operation of the scheme as brought out in the CAG report.
Not only this , the brazen and presumptuous manner of the Government in sleeping over the question of what remedial action should be taken, is intriguing both in respect of CAG report as also about probe conducted by the State Vigilance Organisation (Read) Anti Corruption Bureau in respect of the said irregularities and even by the Committee on Public Accounts of the Legislative Assembly . But why and who were offered the umbrella of state protection for all such acts of land grabbing, the land which is public property and was otherwise to be guarded and protected from the prowlers of such land who were on the “hunt” for all the time, only a high level probe would peep into and bring facts into limelight.
Primarily, the Roshni Act was enacted in the year 2001 for “generating resources” for financing power projects and conferring of property rights to the occupants of the State Land. The Act was hyped as a “revolutionary step” in the annals of history in the state after the Agrarian Reforms Act. Initially, the scheme was intended to generate funds and thus raise revenues but nothing of the sort happened and it proved just an alibi as if a kanal was hypothetically priced at Rs. 2 lac and assuming the full price was received too, it is beyond comprehension that a paltry amount of Rs. 4 crores as the proceeds of the land would have been significant enough and worth financing costly power projects. The process of getting back the occupied land must start without any delay.


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