Put property tax imposition on hold till economic situation improves in J&K: Azad

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Put property tax imposition on hold till economic situation improves in J&K: Azad

February 23, 2023

The Jammu and Kashmir government should postpone the imposition of property tax for a few years till the economic situation in the union territory improves, DPAP chairman Ghulam Nabi Azad said on Thursday.

He also said if his party is elected to power, it will bring back the Roshni Act under which ownership rights were given to occupants of state land.

Speaking to reporters in Anantnag district of south Kashmir, Azad said the economic situation in J-K over the last 35 years has become “bad” because of militancy.

“Our unemployment, inflation has increased manifold. Our tourism, handicraft, horticulture, has suffered a great deal and the people of J-K, including businessmen, transporters, shopkeepers, have suffered losses.

“There is no person from Lakhanpur to Tangdhar who has not suffered losses. So, in such a situation, when we are taking land from them, increasing electricity charges, we are not in a position to pay property tax,” he said.

The former J-K chief minister said in the last four years, since Article 370 was abrogated and J-K changed to a UT in 2019, and also due to the Covid outbreak, the backs of people have been broken.

“Ration supply has been deceased from 35 kgs to five kgs. So, the people have not got any respite. They do not have any income, so, how will they pay tax. Our people do not have any problem in paying tax, but first, there should be income. We know tax will benefit us, but, people should have that power to pay tax first, that money first.

“Right now, they do not have money to sustain themselves, where from will they pay tax? So, I will appeal the government to hold it for four-five years till our economic situation gets better,” he said.

“Let our tourism run smoothly for five-six years, our horticulture produce go to the market, our handicraft be exported, then perhaps we will be in a position to pay tax, Azad added.

He said the government should have sympathy with the people and not form policies while sitting in offices, but by having discussions with the people.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Tuesday issued a notification for imposition of property tax in the union territory which will come into effect from the next financial year.

On the anti-encroachment drive to retrieve state land, Azad said the drive should be stopped. He also asserted that his government will re-implement the Roshni Scheme.

“It (anti-encroachment drive) should be stopped. If I form the government, then we will implement the Roshni scheme once again,” he said.

The Roshni Act, officially known as Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, 2001, was enacted during the regime of the then CM Farooq Abdullah. The law granted ownership of encroached land to encroachers to raise funds for different power projects of the government.

However, the law was implemented with few modifications in the tenure of Azad as chief minister from 2005-2008.

In 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report pointed out that many political persons from different parties had been benefited under the Act.

In November 2018, then governor Satya Pal Malik repealed the Act. On October 9, 2020, the High Court of J-K and Ladakh declared the Act “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable”, and ordered a CBI probe.

Later, the government decided to retrieve such land.

Asked about Congress president Malikarjun Kharge’s comment that the Congress will lead a coalition government in 2024, Azad said, “Let us see it when 2024 comes”.