By Syed Karar Hashmi:
J&K is losing its agricultural land with every passing day, and both the citizens and the government are sadly involved.
In Jammu and Kashmir Agriculture is the key industry and economy is predominately depend on it as 80 percent people in the state are directly or indirectly linked with agriculture. Land being a limited resource, would continue to be under pressure in future due to conversion of agricultural land for non farming purposes.
In 2011, under the chairmanship of Horticulture Ministry a committee was set up by the government for preservation of the agricultural land. It is unfortunate that the said committee failed to reach at the conclusion, reasons best known to the politicians. The proposed legislation was allegedly stopped due to high level political pressure.
According to the records of 1992, the total area of the state is 24.15 Lakh hectares. Out of which, 138,6867 Sq kms are rural and 305.4 Sq km are urban. It is to be noted that the statistics is available for only 8.26 lakh hectares . The rest of the area are under mountains and forests. In our state 80% of the population depends on the agriculture but the proportion of labour force engaged in agriculture has declined from 85% in 1961, to 28% today. The state imports about 40 percent of food grains and 20 percent of vegetables to meet its requirements. In year 2000, 38 percent of earth’s land area was agricultural land but only 11 percent were used for crops. Both residential and commercial buildings are coming up on the agricultural land, which need to be checked and curbed.
It is unfortunate that tourist places in tourist places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam etc are being changed into cities and colonies by non-stop construction of hotels, homes, service centers , schools, shopping malls, commercial complexes, restaurants and VIP huts. Government seems blind to such major issue not enforcing the laws to dealt with such menace. In 2012, the honorable High Court of J&K passed directions to all the Deputy Commissioners with an aim to ensure the implementation of the provisions of agricultural act and land revenue act. The said direction demands to stop the conversion of agricultural land on the respective jurisdictions of the state monitored by commissioners. At the end of the day, nothing could be seen on ground for appreciation.
We are losing 228 Kanals of agricultural land a day and are completely dependent on outside supplies of food products by misusing the agricultural land in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. It seems that government officials at highest level are itself involved in such game plan. In 2011, under the chairmanship of Horticulture Ministry a committee was set up by the government for preservation of the agricultural land. It is unfortunate that the said committee failed to reach at the conclusion, reasons best known to the politicians. The proposed legislation was allegedly stopped due to high level political pressure.
The continuous conversion of agricultural land for commercial purposes is a matter of grave concern but the silence of policy makers on such public issue unfortunate. It is hard reality that at present we are completely dependent on outside supplies and this very fact posses a million dollar question for all the stake holders and other big guns to find ways and means for amelioration. Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) the state has lost 875.665 hectares of forest land , used for road construction and for which the concerned government had incurred an expenditure of Rs over 270 crores. It seems that so called development in Kashmir is basically a nightmare for us. Reports suggest that the land in Jammu and Kashmir has shrunk from 0.08 hectare per person in 2001 to 0.06 hectare per person in 2012.
In which direction we are headed to with such a fast speed? I firmly believe that in 2030, there will be not an inch of agricultural land available and we may be forced to start begging collectively.
The writer is Social Activist from Central Kashmir Ganderbal , presently studying at Jamia Al Mustafa International University Qom Iran.