The J&K Lieutenant Governor’s administration, in the third week of December, notified fresh land rules under J&KLand Grant Rules-2022 and replaced the J&K Land Grants Rules-1960, which dealt with the special rules to grant government land on lease in erstwhile State of J&K. Under the previous rules, prime locations such as Srinagar, Jammu, Gulmarg and Pahalgam were opened up for construction of hotels, commercial structures and residential buildings in the past.

What do new land laws entail?

According to the new land laws, the leases of current land owners will not be extended in case of their lease expiry. It reads that all leases, except the subsisting or expiredresidential leases, expired or determined prior to the coming into force of these rules or issued under these rulesshall not be renewed and shall stand determined. Unlike the previous up to 99 years of lease, the lease period has been reduced to 40 years.

What is the L-G administration’s plan for lease now?

  • An expert committee will enlist all properties where lease had ended. It willbe e-auctioned afresh. The rules open bidding to “any person legally competent under Section 11 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872.” These rules deem a person or an entity in default of Government Revenue accrued to the government under J&K Land Grant Act, 1960 or Government convicted under Prevention of Money Laundering Act, 2002 shall not be eligible for participation in the auction.
  • According to now-repealed land laws, no such land shall be granted on lease to the person, who is not a permanent residence of the State; except where the Government, for the reasons to be recorded, relax this restriction in the interest of industrial or commercial development or in the favour of aregistered charitable society.

Who all are eligible for lease rights in J&K after amendments?

The L-G administration has diversified the use of land on lease toeducation, healthcare, agriculture, tourism, skill development and development of traditional art, craft, culture and languages. The land could be leased for hydro-electric projects, stadiums, playgrounds, gymnasiums or other recreational purposes. It also included provisions for self-employment or for housing purposes of ex-servicemen, war widows and the families ofmartyrs, one who has sacrificed his life in the line of duty. In a first, the land could also beusedforfacilities of migrant workers, buildings and other construction workers.

What will be the immediate impact of the amendments?

The new rules have hundreds of properties open for fresh auction, where outsiders could also participate. The government has not yet released the list of properties where lease has ended. The impact will be of great significance in tourist hotspot Gulmarg, where 56 hotels out of 59 have their leases expired already. Similarly, properties in Pahalgam, Srinagar and Jammu’s Patnitop will go up for auction.

Why are regional parties opposing these amendments?

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah termed it as “unfortunate and aimed at settling outsiders”. He said the first right to these lease properties “belongs to those who were already settled here”. Kashmir’s two key traders’ bodies, the Jammu Kashmir Hoteliers Club (JKHC) and the Chamber OfCommerce Industry Kashmir (CCIK), said J&K’s economy would come to a grinding halt and urged the L-G to reconsider the decision.


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