Principal Accountant General Dr Pandey also made the following startling disclosures quoting CAG report in an unusual press conference on 1st March, 2014: (a) irregularities in transfer of encroached land to occupants in Jammu & Kashmir from 2007 to 2013, saying the state Government realised just Rs 76 crore against a target of Rs 25,448 crore. (b) The legislature’s rights have been violated because law has not been followed by the state Government. (c) Substantial deviations in the rules from the Act happened in 2007. The Government acted beyond the authority given by the Act and violated it. (d) Mutation of title in revenue records should be carried out only after the transfer deed has been duly registered. Audit noticed that this was not being done and the State Exchequer was put to loss not only on account of transfer of lands free or below the price fixed by the committees but also on account of non-collection of stamp duty. Asked whether the rules of state Government were made to help land mafia, he said according to the CAG, the list ‘includes some businessmen, politicians, bureaucrats and journalists.’The CAG had filed the detailed report with regard to Roshni land transfers in the High Court, and hoped ‘for action.’ As already pointed out, the act envisaged lands to be sold at market price but the rules provided for differential pricing and various kinds of rebates thereby benefiting the land grabbers and the rich and mighty. The ‘authorised occupants’ owning residential structures on Government land of upto 2 kanals were required to pay only 25 percent of the land value, and those living on plots of up to 10 kanals were required to pay 40 per cent. For ‘authorised overstayed’ and unauthorised occupants, the rates were fixed at 35 per cent and 50 per cent of the land value, respectively. In the commercial category, authorised, authorised but overstayed and unauthorised occupants had to pay 30 per cent, 45 per cent and 60 per cent, respectively. In case of institutions (educational, religious, charitable, social, trusts, societies) and political parties, the rates were fixed at 15 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. That the public exchequer was thus made to suffer unnecessary and unacceptable huge losses appeared to be of no concern to the Government. Yes, rebate was indeed a common practice in marketing when the demand slumped to an unacceptable level or dried up.The aim was to salvage whatever was possible in an adverse demand and supply equation. Could there be a more blatant, scandalous and dishonest act by the government than to grant rebates in respect of the scarce, inflexible and precious land assets for which there was huge and enduring demand? According to CAG, “Among the beneficiaries of the illegal and irregular deals under the Act were the National Conference’s Nawai Subah Trust and Congress’s Khidmat Trust. While 7 kanal, 15 marlas and 84 sq ft of land were transferred to Khidmat Trust, 3 kanal and 16 marlas were given to Nawai Subah at Zero Bridge in Srinagar.” “The land, under commercial use, was transferred to the two trusts at concessional rate applicable to land under institutional use. The statutory committee under the Act fixed market rate of the land at Rs 1.10 crore per kanal in case of Khidmat Trust and Rs 1.20 crore per kanal in the case of the Nawai Subah Trust. Both were given 85 per cent rebate, with land valued at Performance Evaluation 131 Rs 13.10 crore transferred for only Rs 1.97 crore.” (Nation, March 10, 2014). Grant of Eighty five per cent rebate on the most sought after prime land which would fetch a fortune in an open auction at these commercially strategic locations, that too on arbitrarily calculated low prices surely qualified to be termed as mother of scams and worst instance of Spoil Sharing System?The Roshni rules would go down in history as the most blatant breach of trust reposed by any legislature in the executive by openly and officially authorising misappropriation of public assets and criminal complicity in the promoting a scam of unprecedented proportion. “Possibly, yes”, replied Principal Accountant General Pandey to a question in the press conference whether Roshni Act could be the biggest scam in the state. “The state Government has estimated such lands for Rs 25,000 crores in 2006. Today you can yourself think of the value of this land.” (Roshni Act Biggest Scam in J&K: Kashmir Observour, March 09, 2014). To add insult to injury, the Roshni Rules authorised the Government to “devise and notify a policy of granting rewards and incentives to such officers administering the scheme who show excellent performance in implementation of the scheme.” What was the criteria the powers that be had in mind according to which the level of excellence in distributing and sharing the ‘loot’ of public assets was to be determined and rewarded? Incidentally, the instances cited above were merely illustrative not exhaustive. The CAG had pushed the matter into the court of the Raj Bhawan here it awaited attention and action.The action that the Lt Governor had now taken/authorised was at the core of controversy which prompted the publication of these articles. To what extent these help to achieve the purpose delineated at the very out-set remains to be seen.
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