Roshni Act Biggest Scam in J&K: PAG

JAMMU: Massive land transfers to encroachers under Roshni Act was possibly the “biggest scam” of Jammu and Kashmir, Principal Accountant General, Subash Chandra Pandey said on Saturday and criticised the administration under the then chief minister, for making rules in contravention and violation of the law.

“Possibly, yes,” he said when asked 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, Panday said while addressing a press conference here today.

“We cannot go out of our brief. It does not fall in our domain. The Constitution says that CAG will present a report to the Governor. So we have presented it to Governor and now it is up to the Governor and Legislature. Governor is part of the Legislature,” the PAG said responding to queries on whether he would recommend a probe into it.

He further said, “The legislature’s rights have been violated because law has not been followed by the state government (headed by Ghulam Nabi Azad),” he said.

Referring to amendment in rules, he said, “Yes, substantial deviations in the rules from the Act happened in 2007.” 

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 has alleged irregularities in transfer of encroached land to occupants in Jammu and Kashmir from 2007 to 2013, saying the state government realised just Rs 76 crore against a target of Rs 25,448 crore, they give us. We have filed the detailed report with regard to Roshni land transfers in the High Court,” he said, adding, “I hope that they will take action.”

Pandey meanwhile appreciated the State Government for tax collections over the past few years.

Pandey said the VAT remissions in the State have shown an upward trend during the past four years. Further, he said that the Stamp duty collection has also increased during the period.

The PAG said the State’s own tax revenues have shown a steady increase, particularly the commercial taxes. Elaborating, Pandey said owing to increase in tourism and other economic activities and improving tax compliance, there has been a very satisfactory growth in the revenues from State’s own taxes, which are at a level of 7.7% of GSDP in 2012-13. He said there has been record mobilization of commercial taxes and stamp duties and the State’s own revenues have shown a very high growth. 

The PAG said the State has financed 26.3 % of its total expenditure in 2012-13 from its own resources, up from 23.6 % in 2011-12.

Pandey said the intentions of the Government to diversify the State economy are a welcome step and suggested greater thrust on areas like tourism, agriculture and industries. He also suggested creating an industry friendly environment in the State. He suggested the need of power sector reforms adding these should continue to be a priority area for the State Government. During the press conference, Mr. Pandey presented the highlights of the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for 2012-13 for the Government of J&K.

Pandey said the mandate of the CAG is not merely fault finding but to draw the attention of the Government to areas of concern and suggest remedial measures to improve Government functioning and accountability. He suggested strict adherence to FRBM Act by the State Government.  He said 80% of State’s expenditure goes into the payment of salaries, pensions, interests and power. He expressed concern that the State’s own deficit is on a constant increase and the Revenue deficit has not been brought down as required by the said Act. He also expressed dismay over the diversion of plan grants for non plan purposes.

Manish Kumar, Accountant General; Mrs. Pushpa Devi, Mr. A. K. Mehra and Mr. T. Kashim, Deputy Accountant Generals were also present during the press conference.

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