The shifting of land registration process in Jammu and Kashmir from the judiciary to the department of registration created in the aftermath of nullification of Article 370, has brought in earnings worth Rs 100 crore in stamp duty and registration fees, according to home ministry sources.
Since the creation of a new department of registration in J&K last year as part of transition from state to Union Territory, 77 sub-registrars have been appointed and nearly 25,000 land registrations done. The entire registration process is being digitised and moved online.
Also, the process of stamp duty administration is being fully computerised and e-stamping rules framed. This, said a home ministry officer, has helped simplify and demystify land revenue administration in J&K.
Another key reform introduced was the abolition of Lakhanpur toll. This toll tax was seen contrary to overall consumer interest as it was pushing up the cost of commodities entering J&K. Toll tax at Lakhanpur entry point to J&K and all other posts at railway stations and airports, was abolished with effect from January 1, 2020. A home ministry officer said this has “facilitated the growth of a robust industrial sector, keeping in tune with the ‘one nation, one market’ spirit of GST”.
Power sector in J&K has also benefited as a reform pending for the past five years, the power distribution department was hived off into five autonomous corporations with independent mandates and responsibilities. “The unbundling has moved the focus to improved services and stable revenue mechanism,” said a senior MHA official.
To ensure faster execution of civil works post-Article-370, the engineering wing of directorate of urban local bodies was wound up and civil works entrusted to public works department. The municipal committees and councils are now empowered to accord administrative approvals for projects up to Rs 5 crore.
The central information commission, central vigilance commission — which has direct supervision over state anti-corruption bureau — and central administrative tribunal now have jurisdiction over J&K, which officials say has ensured transparency and accountability in the fight against corruption. ACB has since taken cognisance of bank fraud cases, including the J&K Bank corruption case that led to many high-profile arrests including its two former CMDs. As many as 73 FIRs were registered and 50 arrests made by ACB in 2019. There have been 20 arrests till June this year. ACB has also seized funds work Rs 187 crore in the J&K State Cooperative Bank loan fraud case.
Eleven disproportionate assets cases were registered in the UT of J&K in 2019 against eight in 2018. Many structural and financial reforms were introduced to bring transparency, probity and speed and e-tendering is now mandataory, replacing the practice of departmental works on nomination basis.
To free up huge government funds parked in various bank accounts with little accountability and financial discipline, these were identified and timelines mandated for their remittance into consolidated fund. The initiative has seen the remittance of nearly Rs 1,000 crore into the consolidated fund of J&K, said home ministry sources.