Srinagar, Nov 16: For the last four years, 78,700 hectares of cultivable land has been converted to non-agricultural purposes in Kashmir.
Thanks to rapid urbanization, Kashmir is fast losing its agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes.
Agriculture Department data accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that the valley had 4, 67,700-hectares of agriculture land in 2015 which has shrunk to 3, 89,000 hectares in 2018.
This indicates Kashmir has lost 78,700 hectares of agricultural land to non-agricultural purpose since 2015.
Data shows that the land under paddy cultivation in Kashmir region shrank from 1, 48,000 hectares in 2015 to 1, 40,000 in 2018.
Similarly, maize cultivation shrank from 100,000 hectares to 76,000 hectares over these years.
Accordingly, cultivation of pulses has declined from 14,600 hectares to 12,767 hectares. Oilseed cultivation also plummeted from 86,000 hectares to 81,000.
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, officials said.
Environment lawyer, Nadim Qadri said there are several laws that prohibit illegal conversion of agricultural land 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.
Similarly, Qadir said, 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, he added
A senior official at the Agricultural Department said the agricultural land is shrinking fast.
“People are also converting agricultural land into horticulture because it gives them good economic returns. To make matters worse, government seems keen on promoting horticulture sector only. However, there is no strong agricultural policy which can help save the agricultural land,” he said
Director of Agriculture, Kashmir, Altaf Aijaz Andrabi said: “The agriculture sector in Kashmir has huge export potential because the valley has seasonal advantage over Jammu region and parts of the country. Further, it will decrease dependency to some extent.”
Andrabi noted that the rapid land conversion has to stop else it will prove catastrophic to the existence of the people in the valley.