Roshni Act abuse probe may expose top leaders, babus in J&K

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Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik’s decision to get the land allotment made under the Roshni Act investigated by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is likely to expose the plunder by several politicians and former Ministers in the state.

According to sources, some top leaders of the National Conference (NC), the Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are likely to be summoned for questioning. “Custodial interrogation of some former Ministers, senior politicians and civil servants is not ruled out,” said a source.

Terming it an open loot, a senior government officer said, “The Act was brazenly misused to benefit influential people, party workers, relatives and in some cases even friends and sympathisers”.

Giving an example, the official said, a ‘Nazool’ (state land) plot in Srinagar, which would normally cost Rs 3 crore plus, was allotted at Rs 20 lakh, and added, even after that subsidies were offered to the beneficiaries. “Isn’t this an open plunder of public property,” the officer wondered.

According to another official, multi-crore business complexes have been built by the beneficiaries on most lands allotted under the Roshni Act in Srinagar and Jammu. After getting lands allotted at throw-away prices, the allottees in most cases minted fortunes through resale, said another officer.

“These prime lands were allotted to so-called homeless residents of Jammu and Srinagar cities. People in power made a crual joke of the Act, ostensibly enacted for public welfare. The Act has only benefited the powerful and mighty in the state,” said a senior Revenue Department officer.

What confounds the common man is that the ‘Nazool’ land plots in posh residential areas in Srinagar and Jammu, were allotted at Rs 25 lakh per kanal against the market price of Rs 4 crore a kanal.

Officials responsible for implementation of the Act have made monetary hay out of it. “In many cases the officials reportedly accepted huge rewards for identifying allottees and announcing rates,” said Shabir Ahmed, a resident of Old Srinagar.

The Act was envisioned and enacted by the National Conference government in 2001. Then Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather was the architect of the Act.-IANS news