EARLY TIMES REPORT
SRINAGAR, Feb 25: Though there are several laws on the illegal conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural, but all what is seen is that their implementation is poor.
Sources told Early Times that there has been rapid conversion of agricultural land in almost all the Districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
Source said that large scale conversion of agricultural land into horticulture, unplanned construction including residential colonies, factories, brick kilns, shopping complexes and other commercial infrastructure have come across as prime reasons for the damage of agricultural land.
As per official figures of Agriculture Department, Kashmir had 4,67,700-hectares of agriculture land in 2015 which has shrunk to 3,89,000 hectares till 2018.
This shows Kashmir has lost around 80,000 hectares of agricultural land to non-agricultural purpose since 2015.
Data shows that land under paddy cultivation in Kashmir region shrank from 1,48,000 hectares in 2015 to 1,40,000 in 2018.
The data further shows that cultivation of pulses has declined from 14,600 hectares to 12,767 hectares.
An official told Early Times that there are several laws on the illegal conversion of agricultural land use into non-agricultural purposes but the implementation is “poor”.
“For instance, Section 133-A of the J&K Land Revenue Act says ‘No land growing Shali crops, vegetables or saffron Lullis can be put to any use other than the purposes mentioned above, without obtaining prior permission of the revenue minister or an officer duly authorized by him in this behalf is required for conversion of agriculture land,” he said.
He said, “Similarly, Section 13 of the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976 also prevents the conversion of agriculture land. A high court judgment of 2013 also banned the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.”
A senior official at the Agricultural Department said that the agricultural land is shrinking fast.
“People are also converting agricultural land into horticulture as it gives them good economic returns," he said.
He asserted, "To make the matters worse, government seems keen on promoting horticulture sector only. However, there is no strong agricultural policy which can help save the agricultural land.”