Who were beneficiaries of ‘Roshni Scheme’?

If the status report filed by the Government in the High Court in respect of the wherewithal of the entire scheme of Roshni Scheme is perused in totality , it would prima facie establish the working of a mechanism in the politico- administrative system whereby encroachers of land had become owners of large chunks of public land. It all perhaps was deliberately done to give a camouflage to such encroachments by enacting Roshni Act by the erstwhile State Government. Things and happenings of corrupt and fraudulent practices but in a novel way could be seen in the entire process of the said ‘Roshni Scheme’ which on the face of it, was meant to augment state’s revenue and raise Rs.25000 crore for financing Hydropower projects but it was intended in real terms to legitimise and rather regularise land grabbing and land encroachments. If it is said that the scheme turned out to be the biggest land scam in Jammu and Kashmir, it will not be an over statement.
A Division Bench of State High Court has recently expressed its utter displeasure and surprise over the list of beneficiaries submitted by the Government in the court in respect of a hearing in a Public Interest Litigation which sought to challenge the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act. Action against ‘State Land Looters’ needs to be taken since while on the one hand a paltry amount of Rs. 100 crore or so has gone into the state coffers since the implementation of this scheme in 2004, freeing the land from encroachers is yet to take place.. As per rough estimates nearly 68000 kanals of state land up for grabs at the rate of less than Rs.5000 per kanal could be called no less than the then politico- administrative system putting Jammu and Kashmir for sale . Looking to the notoriety this scheme earned , it was established that only rich, elite and land – grabbers had the audacity to grab the state land and the then Governments gave them the legal rights to do so.
Accordingly, coming to know about all such shoddy aspects rather the real intent of the Scheme, the Division Bench directed the respondents in the said PIL to furnish details on affidavit that the details given in the Status Report were correct and complete in all respects. Division of the land , its classification and calculated value too are sought by the court to get to know further deep into the land scam under the Roshni Scheme. It is interesting to note that making illegal entries like fraud too has been committed under this Scheme by way of 659 acres of forest and state land all detected in Jammu . Not only this much , it is reported that the matter was still under examination and more illegal entries in land records could surface as the Deputy Commissioner , Jammu has unearthed the scam of such illegal entries. Pending full investigations and getting to know more about such illegal revenue entries, it is important to know whether , at the outset, the services of the concerned and suspected employees and other officials responsible for such fraudulent entries have been placed under suspension . The Division Bench too has directed the Deputy Commissioner to ensure that strict action was taken against the public as well private persons responsible for such entries.
The crux of the ”after effects” of the Roshni Scheme being legitimising land grabbing and showering benefits of ownership as also giving the prime land belonging to the state just for a song to the chosen beneficiaries all needed to be reversed , land recovered fully and the rent recovered from the date of encroaching to evicting from such people . That even an ex- Minister too has made hay while the sun shone by allegedly grabbing 10 kanals of land shows political and moral dishonesty which needs to be freed from encroachment and taking other legal action in the matter. The infamous and dubious Roshni Scheme , in short, could be treated as symbolic legitimising of corrupt practices. It is only under the Governor’s rule of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir , that the said Roshni Act was repealed by the then Governor Satya Pal Malik which was hailed by all as it generated a public debate over how Public Land was sold against the cost of just peanuts.
With repealing of the Act , a wrong was undone but the move would be termed as half hearted and of little effect if evictions , cancellations, cost recoveries and penalising aspects were not followed and enforced strictly. Jammu and Kashmir being so brazenly and blatantly ridden with corrupt and illegal practices to this extent whereby public property was put on loot is reprehensible and therefore, under the auspices of the High Court , all aspects are expected now to be scrutinised and necessary directions and orders expected to completely undo such a big wrong.