All about Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh land law and RERA


Since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and the provisions of Article 35A, speculations rife about investing in a property in Jammu and Kashmir. While elements of growth have been introduced, prospective home buyers should wait to buy a property here.

Since the revocation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 and the provisions of Article 35A, speculations are rife about investing in a property in Jammu and Kashmir. While elements of growth have been introduced, prospective home buyers should wait to buy a property here. 

The government, on August 5, 2019, revoked the ‘special status’ granted to the state of Jammu and Kashmir, under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and also repealed Article 35A. The government has also split the state into two union territories of J&K and Ladakh.

 

Centre notifies Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh land law, enables outsiders to buy land

The centre has also amended the laws, to enable those outside Jammu and Kashmir to buy land in the union territory. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has amended, repealed or substituted 26 state laws, to facilitate this provision under the UT of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Adaptation of Central Laws) Third Order, 2020. The provisions come into effect immediately, that is on October 27, 2020.

Section 17 of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, which deals with land laws in the UT has seen some modifications. The phrase ‘permanent resident of the state’ has been removed, clearing the way for anticipated investment in land by outsiders. The notification by the MHA makes clear that all legal barriers that restricted the purchase of land by non-residents, have now been removed. Although agricultural land cannot be sold to non-agriculturists, the transfer of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, such as healthcare and educational institutions, has been made relatively easier than before.

Jammu and Kashmir also found a mention in the Union Budget 2021-22, tabled by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, 2021. Two important announcements were made:

  • Funds to the UTs of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh would be provided by the centre.
  • A gas pipeline project will be taken up in the union territory of Jammu  Kashmir. 

 

Impact of new land law in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh

With the centre notifying the new land law, private investment is likely to increase, in times to come. Private investment is a huge catalyst, as it triggers demographic shifts, leading to people migrating for jobs and settlement. It is an established fact that housing demand follows job opportunities and this has been visible in the tier-1 cities of India. The government’s move, hence, could have far-reaching implications on the property market in the region.

 

Employment prospects in Jammu and Kashmir

Till now, Jammu and Kashmir was a closed zone, for private investments. Even the tourism industry in the state could not fully realise its potential, due to restrictions on trade and buying property. Banks were hesitant to extend loans, because in case of defaults, they could not dispose of the property to recover losses under the SARFAESI Act. This prevented manufacturing and IT companies from setting up operations. With an investor’s summit planned in October 2019, the authorities are keen to invite and attract investments in the field of agro-processing, hospitality, tourism, horticulture, healthcare, education, pharma and many other industries. Nevertheless, after the revocation of the special status, the authorities will need to chalk out rules, to bring in momentum in employment and investments. The availability of jobs, could attract skilled workforce from within Jammu and Kashmir, as well as other states.

 

Property purchases in J&K for non-residents

Until now, only permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed the right to acquire property in the state. The revocation of the special status, could mean that non-residents will also acquire this right, thereby, infusing momentum in the property market. Land rates in the two union territories may, hence, rise. Owing to its scenic background, Jammu and Kashmir could attract wealthy investors. However, it might be too early to make an investment, given that it will take the authorities a few months to clarify the rules and restrictions pertaining to local lands. The distinct demographics of the two territories, also make it important to study the market, before making an investment therein.

 

Property rights of women may see a revision

In J&K, women marrying non-residents did not have the right to inherit property and their children too could not claim ancestral property and had no succession rights in such cases. This scenario may now witness a change.

 

Applicability of RERA in Jammu and Kashmir

While J&K’s real estate rules came into force in December 2018, the central Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (RERA) rules that got its shape in May 2016 and was applicable to the rest of the country, did not apply to the state, for long. In August 2020, Jammu and Kashmir notified its RERA rules and the UT is now bound by the central rules, although it does have the authority to draft and implement specific rules with respect to local land laws. Ladakh too notified its RERA rules on October 8, 2020.

 

Infrastructure growth in Jammu and Kashmir

Elevated Light Rail System

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has approved a proposal to set up an Elevated Light Rail System (ELRS) in the twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar February 7, 2020: The Administrative Council of Jammu and Kashmir, which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu, on February 6, 2020, approved a Rs 10,559-crore project, to set up an Elevated Light Rail System (ELRS) in the twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar. The Elevated Light Rail Systems have been conceived for Srinagar and Jammu cities, to provide best-in-class mobility in terms of safe, reliable, convenient, cost-effective and sustainable public transport system, a spokesman said. The Light Rail Transit System (LRTS) in Jammu will have one corridor from Bantalab to Bari Brahmana with a total length of 23 kms, while the LRTS in Srinagar will have two corridors, one from Indira Nagar to HMT Junction and second from Usmanabad to Hazuri Bagh, with a total length of 25 kms, the spokesman said. He said the capital cost of the project, at current prices, including land, rehabilitation and resettlement and taxes, is estimated to be Rs 4,825 crores for Jammu LRTS and Rs 5,734 crores for the Srinagar LRTS. The project is expected to be completed by December 2024, the spokesman said.

Rail India Technical and Economic Service Limited (RITES), the consultancy organisation, submitted the final detailed project report (DPR) for Jammu and Srinagar Metro rail project to the Jammu and Kashmir Metropolitan Region Development Authority. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is yet to give its approval to the DPR and funding for the project.

 

Industrial estate in JK’s Udhampur

About 1,000 acres of land has been identified in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district for a new industrial estate, union minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh said, on January 19, 2020. He said this would attract investors and promote Udhampur as an industrial hub. “This will, in turn, generate employment opportunities for the local youth,” he said, adding the decision was a timely one because the Global Investors Summit was being planned in Jammu and Srinagar in April 2020. He added that the demand for a new bus stand in Udhampur had been accepted and the process to finalise the land was underway.

 

New rail line to connect Kashmir to the rest of India

Kashmir will be connected to the rest of India through railway network by December 2021, as the government has set a fresh deadline for the completion of the world’s highest railway bridge. The rail line is expected to be 35 metres taller than the Eiffel Tower. The bridge forms a crucial link in the 111-km stretch between Katra and Banihal, which is part of the Udhampur- Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project.

“It is the most challenging task in the 150-year-long history of the railways. The highest railway bridge in the world, connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country through rail line, will be completed by December 2021,” Konkan Railway chairman Sanjay Gupta said. “The construction of the bridge is the most challenging part of the Kashmir rail link project undertaken post-independence and once completed, it will be an engineering marvel,” Gupta said.

The massive arch-shaped structure, being constructed in hostile terrain, will use over 5,462 tonnes of steel and will be 359 metres above the river bed, he added. Designed to withstand wind speeds of up to 260 kms per hour, the 1.315-km-long ‘engineering marvel’ will connect Bakkal (Katra) and Kauri (Srinagar). Once completed, it will surpass the record of the Beipan river Shuibai railway bridge (275 m) in China. The Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla rail link project is highly essential, to provide an alternative and a reliable transportation system to Jammu and Kashmir, to join the Kashmir Valley to the Indian Railways network, Gupta said.

 

Land identified for industrial estates

The Jammu and Kashmir administration has identified 15,000 acres of land in the Kashmir Valley and 42,500 acres of land in the Jammu region, for setting up industrial estates for prospective entrepreneurs, officials said on December 12, 2019.

KK Sharma, advisor to the lieutenant governor, chaired a high-level meeting and directed officers to make suitable and sufficient land available, for setting up new industrial estates for the prospective entrepreneurs. “Development of more industrial estates, will go a long way in boosting the industrial scenario in J-K, generate employment opportunities and contribute to the local economy,” he said.

Elaborating further, divisional commissioner of Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan said the process of identification of the land had been started and a large chunk of land had been made available in Kashmir. He said roughly 1.20 lakh Kanal (15,000 acres) of land had been identified and the deputy commissioners had been asked to speed-up the process of acquiring it. Divisional commissioner of Jammu, Sanjeev Verma said that deputy commissioners have been directed to constitute teams, for identification of land. He informed the meeting that roughly 3.40 lakh Kanal (42,500 acres) land had been identified in different districts of Jammu division.

 

Developmental initiatives in J&K

Urban local bodies to be strengthened

Jammu and Kashmir will get 13 more municipal councils, as the Administrative Council of the union territory approved the upgradation of all district-level municipal committees, along with the creation of new committees. The decision will raise the number of municipal councils to 19, in a bid to strengthen urban local bodies by increasing their human resource capacities and streamline cadre management. The Administrative Council, which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu, on January 29, 2020, accorded sanction for upgrading all municipal committees at district headquarters and those with population of more than 30,000 as per 2011 Census after following due process, an official spokesman said. Currently, there are six municipal councils in the union territory – Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Anantnag, Baramulla and Sopore. The upgraded municipal councils from committees include Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian, Ganderbal, Budgam, Bandipora, Kupwara, Reasi, Doda, Samba, Kishtwar, Ramban and Rajouri, the spokesman said.

 

NABARD sanctions funds for projects in J&K

The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has sanctioned Rs 400.64 crores for various projects of the Public Works Department (PWD), Public Health Engineering (PHE) and animal husbandry of the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir for the current financial year, an official spokesman said, on February 29, 2020. This was against the normative allocation of Rs 500 crores for the current fiscal, thus, registering a cumulative achievement of 95.95%, the spokesman said. The sanctioned projects include 85 rural roads and bridges, 38 water supply schemes and two animal husbandry projects.

 

Dismiss officials involved in encroachment of JDA land: LG Murmu

Meanwhile, amid massive encroachment of Jammu Development Authority (JDA) lands, due to the failure of its enforcement wing, Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, on January 17, 2020, directed the vice-chairman of the organisation to dismiss officials who failed to perform their duty or in any way connived with the encroachers. Since 1973, the J-K government had transferred 9,479 acres of land to the JDA for development, out of which 6,818 acres of land has not been demarcated, officials said. The massive crackdown against encroachers was carried out in compliance to the directions of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 2019.

 

J&K to get a new Registration Department

The State Administrative Council (SAC) of Jammu and Kashmir, which met under the chairmanship of governor Satya Pal Malik in Srinagar, on October 23, 2019, approved the creation of 464 new posts under various categories, in order to make the department of registration functional, an official spokesperson said. “The SAC accorded sanction to the creation/establishment of a new Department of Registration under the Registration Act, 1908 (Central Act), now applicable to Jammu and Kashmir with effect from October 31, 2019 in terms of the Jammu and Kashmir Re-organisation Act, 2019. The department shall function under the overall administrative control of the revenue department,” the official said.

He said the new department will provide hassle-free and speedy service to the citizens, for registration of documents pertaining to immovable property, like sale, gift, mortgage, lease and bequest. The SAC approved the appointment of additional deputy commissioners and sub-divisional magistrates and assistant commissioners, revenue, to exercise the powers of registrars and sub-registrars respectively, within such jurisdiction to be notified by the Revenue Department for purposes of the Registration Act, 1908, the spokesman said.

J-K administration defends separate Registration Department amid lawyers’ strike

The Jammu and Kashmir administration, on November 5, 2019, defended the creation of a separate Department of Registration, in a decision which divested the judicial courts of its powers to register various documents, leading to an indefinite strike by lawyers in most parts of Jammu region. On October 23, 2019, the state administrative council (SAC) headed by the then governor Satya Pal Malik accorded sanction to the creation of a new Registration Department, under the overall administrative control of the Revenue Department. Earlier, the Revenue Department was involved in only issuance of ‘Fard Intikhab’ (authentication of property with reference to original record) and cost estimation of land on the ground of which registry of the same was being done by judicial officers. “The Department of Registration has been created, to make the process similar to the rest of the country. Unlike past, the creation of a separate department shall substantially reduce the waiting time for the public in getting various types of deeds or documents registered,” the Revenue Department said. It said unlike in the past, the applicant would not be required to pay any court fee, in addition to the stamp duty payable, while registration of a deed for the transfer of immovable property.

(With inputs from PTI)

 

FAQ

Can outsiders buy property in J&K?

With the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 gone, the legal restriction on outsiders from property ownership no longer exists. You can buy a property in J&K provided other factors such as legality of property, budget etc are favourable.

What jobs may be newly created in J&K?

Apart from greater interest in the tourism sector, industrial estates are also coming up which will add jobs in the region.

Does Kashmir have RERA?

In Jammu and Kashmir, the RERA will be notified soon.

What is the price of land in Srinagar?

The average price of a residential plot in Srinagar can range from Rs 2,220 per sq ft to Rs 3,500 per sq ft.

 

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