Friday, April 14, 2006

Roshni or darkness?

 Now State won’t get Rs 25000 crore: Govt

It won’t get even Rs 6000 crore: Opp

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, Apr 13: A widow of Dewan Jawalla Sahai, who had given substantial money to Maharaja Gulab Singh when he purchased Kashmir from British through Amritsar treaty for Rs 75 lakh, owned 120,000 kanals of land in Islamabad, Kulgam, Awantipora and other areas. In Kulgam Tehsil it was difficult for people to bury their dead as almost all land had proprietorship of the widow. Raja of Chenani alone owned 310,000 kanals of land. 

And when on October 17, 1950, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah declared policy of liquidating the big landed estates and transferring land to tiller by enacting Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, the land of these people was reduced to only 182 kanals.

Now 60 years down the line, when chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad  describes Jammu and Kashmir State Lands(vesting of ownership to occupants) Amendment Act, 2006, commonly known as Roshni act, as landmark legislation and compares it with the land to tiller, many people scoff at the claim.

Former Minister Muhammad Shafi Uri describes land to tiller reforms as revolutionary step, which empowered 87 per cent people in the Jammu and Kashmir State.

Landlords were given right over only 180 kanals of land and later when Agrarian Reforms Act was enacted, it was slashed to 100 kanals,” he said.

He said comparing Roshni Act with the Land to Tiller was an insult to the land reforms of Sheikh Abdullah. He said land to tiller transferred 2.5 lakh acres to the tillers and it was given to them without any compensation. Also, he said with it 2.35 lakhs acres got transferred to the State which was later given to tillers. He said Sheikh empowered common people and took away land from those who had grabbed it from the common people. “Here, through this Roshni Act you are empowering land grabbers allowing them to have thousands of Kanals of land they have occupied illegally in and around Tawai and other areas of the State,” he said. He said it does not require any investigation that who will be its beneficiary. “Only rich, elite and land grabbers who had audacity to grab the land and now have benevolent government who gave them its rights,” he said.

Former Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather who had conceptualized the Roshni scheme has also tough words for amendments made to the Act. He said the way present government brought legislation has marred the whole scheme. Elaborating, he said, when National Conference brought the law it described vacant land as a state land and had also included illegally occupied land as vacant land. “But present government amended clause c of the Act and agreed to give propriety rights to land grabbers who had illegally occupied the land,” he said. 

He said the Act was named as Roshni Act so that whatsoever revenue will come out of it will be used in power sector. “That clause has been also omitted,” Rather said. Now, he said, no one knows where will the money go, if at all something will come. He said when NC brought legislation it had kept January 1990 as cut of date and has described any land state land, which was vacant. It has also described illegally occupied land occupied after 1990 as State land keeping so many factors in consideration, he said. 

“Here they have kept everything open. Even now anyone can occupy State land and later get its property rights. No record has been taken away from possession of Patwaris. Thus, anyone can make entry and in villages where you have to pay only Rs 100 for property rights, anyone could induce revenue officials. This will breed corruption and more corruption and State will suffer immensely,” he said. He said land reforms of Sheikh Abdullah usurped land from land grabbers and gave that to tillers free of cost. “Here you are giving property rights to land grabbers who have occupied Nazool land in cities and Khalisa land in villages. Earlier government had claimed it would get Rs 25000 crores out of the Roshni Act but now it has other opinion.

The Congress Minister Taj Mohideen, who in legislative assembly strongly defended the Act, continues to describe it one of the landmark legislation of the State.

 “We have given Rs 20,000 crores worth of land free of cost to people,” he said. He however said now the State government will get only Rs 6000 crore out it as for villages registration has been fixed Rs 100 only. He said it was only upto 2004, after it no occupation will be considered legal. Asked about allegations that land grabbers have empowered by this legislation, he said in Sheikh Abdullah time the landlords too had property rights and later it was transferred to tillers. “Here we also gave land free of cost to villagers,” he said.

But Rather disagrees. “One wonders where from government get it. They have neither fixed zones, nor they have determined the prices. The State has thrown away its land,” he said.

Now the question is how much of the State land has been occupied over the years. Figures vary and there seems to be no actual data on ground. Rather says Revenue officials told him that 11 lakhs kanals of the State land has been occupied illegally. Sources in Revenue Department said that total illegally encroached land was 20 lakh kanals in the State as reported by Deputy Commissioners. Sources said boundaries have not been defined making everything ambiguous. The Commissioner Secretary Revenue Masood Samoon too seems to be groping in dark. He says he don’t know how much land has been encroached upon over the years. “Exact figures are not lying with me. I have to cross check it first,” said the official.





In box

Raj Tilak Boon

On November 5, 1951 the then Revenue Minister Mirza Muhammad Afzal Beg said compensation should be given to landlords. His argument was: “Maharaja Hari Singh on ascending the throne in 1924-25 issued a Royal Proclamation called the Raj Tilak Boon. On the basis of this declaration Maharaja permitted the landlords to annex Village Common Lands (Shamilat) with their holdings. These Shamilat came into possession of landlords apart from cultivated land they already possessed. And with this the landholder who had 1000 kanals got further 1000 kanals of land grants on the basis of Raj Tilk Boon. And those who had 2000 kanals got 2000 kanals of Shamilat.

Under Royal proclamations Hari Singh allowed landlords to usurp forest, and Shamilat (village common lands) land and with it landlords who had one thousand kanals got 4000 kanals more in Jammu and in Kashmir they got 8000 kanals more. Deceit and frauds also took place while these orders were operated so much that land of pity land holders were also grabbed by influential elements with their lands. In Kashmir 160,000 acres and in Jammu 310,000 acres were given away by Maharaja by way Raj Tilak Boon.”



Fixation of prices under Roshni Act

For residential use authorized occupants (where lease has been granted) will have to pay 25 per cent of the total value for upto 2 kanals.

In 3 to 10 kanals, 40 per cent and for more than 10 kanals full value of the land has to be paid or as determined by committee.

For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 35 per cent of total value has to be paid for 2 kanals or as determined by committee. For 3 to 10 Kanals, 50 per cent of the total value and for more than 10 kanals occupants either have to surrender beyond ten kanals or pay full value which will be determined by the committee.

For unauthorized occupants who are in possession upto 2 kanals (where no lease has been granted or allotment made) price has been fixed 40 per cent of the total value. For 3 to 10 kanals, 50 per cent of the total cost has been fixed.

Commercial area

In commercial area authorized occupants (where lease has not expired) will have to pay 30 per cent of the total value. For authorized over stayed occupants (where lease has expired) they will have to pay 45 per cent of the total value. And for unauthorized occupants (where no lease was granted) 60 per cent of the total value has been fixed.

Political Institutions

The land which has been used for what government says institutional use, like educational, religious, charitable, social and political parties recognized by election commission of India, rate list is:

An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized over stayed occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.

Agriculture Land

For agriculture land upto 100 kanals token money of Rs 100 has to be paid for maintenance of records.

Religious purposes 

An authorized occupant (where lease has not expired), price has been fixed 15 per cent of total value. For authorized overstayed occupants (where lease has expired) 25 per cent has been fixed and for unauthorized over stayed occupants (where no lease has been granted) it is 50 per cent of total value.