Land and Lease Laws Reformation Offers Optimism In J&K

Land Laws Were Regressive, Changes Being Made To Benefit Common Man, Says LG

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Land Laws Were Regressive, Changes Being Made To Benefit Common Man, Says LG

Iqbal Ahmed

The property and land laws of any region are vital to its development. The land and property laws enforcement help and is in fact are key component of the development and progress in direction of any area of the globe.

After the abrogation of Article 370, the thrust of the Jammu and Kashmir Government is to reform the rotten land and property laws.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Mr Manoj Sinha a few days back affirmed that necessary changes were being made in land laws to benefit the common man as earlier legislations were ”very regressive”.

Heavy Litigation Due To Land Records

“The (old) land laws were very regressive and not framed with the interests of the people in mind. The changes which are necessary for benefiting common man are being made,” Mr Sinha told reporters on the sidelines of a function. The LG was responding to a question about land lease holders in Jammu and Kashmir being asked to return the possession to the government.

It was stated 40 to 45 per cent litigation in the Union Territory was due to land records. “We have carried out digitisation of the land records. Once the process is complete, the people here can live in peace,” he added.

According to a recent notification, the administration has asked the owners to hand over possession of leased land immediately, failing which they shall be evicted. The administration has also refused to renew the lease of outgoing lessees and decided to outsource it through online auction.

Panic Among Leaseholders

Owners of hundreds of businesses in Jammu and Kashmir, including hotels at the world famous skiing resort Gulmarg, are on their part anxious that they might have to close down after a new land law has come into effect in the Union Territory.

Opposition parties like National Conference and People’s Democratic party have criticized the lease laws.

“Natural justice is that you give leaseholders the right to renew the lease. They should have the first right of refusal. You (administration) should decide rates. If leaseholders are not willing to pay then you can take the next step” said Omar Abdullah, former J&K chief minister.

Expired Lease Documents Of Most Properties

It is known that whatever commercial activity takes place in the world famous resort of Gulmarg, it all happens within the lands leased by successive governments to the local entrepreneurs. According to ground watchers, there is barely a property that does not have its lease documents expired

“All leases (except the subsisting expired residential leases) including lease granted under the Jammu and Kashmir Land Grants Rules 1960, Notified Area (All Development Authorities set in Tourism Sector) Land Grants Rules, 2007 and leases expired or determined before the coming into force of these rules or issued under these rules shall not be renewed and shall stand determined,” the Jammu & Kashmir Land Grant Rules-2022 point out.

On the other hand, if the outgoing lessees have not violated the terms of the agreement of the lease, they will be paid for any improvement including structure construction they might have made and the assessments of the value would be made by a committee.

Digital Passbooks For Landowners

The Chief Secretary Jammu and Kashmir Arun Mehta had stated in September that by month-end, all the landowners will get digital passbooks in three languages- Hindu, Urdu and English. “It is for the first time one will get the document in the language he understands. Earlier, people were not able to understand the language in which the (land documents) were written,” Mehta had said.

He said that many a time people would sell land not belonging to them duping buyers who were then not able to get their money back. “So, we are trying to stop these things in a transparent manner,” he said.

Digitisation Of Land Records A Historical Move

Despite some opposition, the overall mood is that the step taken by the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to reform land and property laws is a step in right direction. The digitisation of land records is a historical move.

Some months back, Kulgam district had completed digitization of land records and has become the only second district in UT of J&K to have achieved the feat.

The completion of digitization of land records will now facilitate smooth and hassle-free access to land records within a click anywhere and it in itself is a historic achievement, stated the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Kulgam, Dr.Bilal Mohi-Ud-Din Bhat.

Joint Secretary, Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, Sonmoni Borah, few time back reviewed progress on digitization and computerization of land records under Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRMP) in Srinagar.

On the occasion, Union Joint Secretary took a detailed assessment of recent initiatives of government like Land Records Information System, Survey of Villages Abadi and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas (SVAMITVA) besides Digital India Land Records Modernization Programme (DILRM). He also assessed progress on various vital issues regarding encroachment drives, demarcation of Government land, status of mutations, progress of digitization of Jamabandis, status of Patwar Khana, etc

Deputy Commissioner briefed the Union Joint Secretary about the functioning and achievements of Revenue Department in the District. He informed that over 98 percent of landowners have been provided Land passbooks in the district while registration of properties is going on smoothly and integration of NGDRS portal with LRIS is also being worked out.

Union Joint Secretary lauded the efforts of district administration Srinagar in achieving almost 100% of the targets in digitization of revenue records and becoming the country’s first district to achieve 100% saturation under SVAMITVA Yojana.

The land and property reformation is definitely the need of the hour in Jammu and Kashmir.

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