Srinagar, Apr 11: The Kashmir region has witnessed a steady conversion of wetland, farmland into non-agricultural use over the past three decades.
About 20% of agricultural land are said to be converted for commercial or residential purposes in last few years.
The experts believe that Agriculture and wetland in entire state is shrinking at an alarming rate, particularly in and around Srinagar, Baramullah, Sopore, Anantnag and other main towns of the region. “The state government continues to be a mere spectator to the onslaught of urbanization. Though there are a multiple reasons for this trend, the decrease is mainly attributed to diversion of cultivable land for non-agricultural purposes, including construction, industries and other development activities,” they said.
According to the government data available with KNS about 80% of people engaged in agriculture are in the rural areas of the state and their sole means of livelihood is farming. “If the trend continues for another 10 years, the state could see a major food crisis,” one of the former Horticultural officer told KNS.
The trend of losing farmland to urbanization has left farmers worried. The real estate boom around major towns will lead to a devastating food crisis in the state in coming years. If land is to be used for anything other than agriculture, government’s permission must be sought. However, most of our politicians are hand-in-glove with these builders. It’s they who determine the use of land, resulting in the mushrooming of construction on agricultural lands,” alleged the social activists.
He said that the large paddy fields separating the towns from the nearby villages are now the sites of multi-storied commercial complexes, shopping malls, schools, service centres and residential colonies. This has had a direct effect on agricultural productivity in the region.
According to Jammu and Kashmir Economic Survey report 2014-15, the estimated contribution of agriculture to State Gross Domestic Product (GSDP) has fallen from 28% in 2004-5 to 17%. The shortfall in food grains, which was 32% in 1950-51, is now 82 %.
The survey goes on to note that, while 70% of the population depends directly or indirectly on agriculture, the proportion of the labour force engaged in agriculture has declined from 85% in 1961, to 28% today. Farmers have not found other work in kashmir, due to the absence of a viable industrial and service sector.
Another social activist said that the lack of industry or service sector and rapid urbanization in Kashmir are linked due to the conflict of the last two and a half decades. “Due to militancy and counter-insurgency operations, the rural areas which were the most unsafe were left by the residents who fled to bigger cities, principally Srinagar, for safety. According to 2014-15 J&K economic survey, the largest urban area is in Srinagar district, where 98.6% of people live in urban areas, followed by Jammu district with 50%. In 2011. A London based-based City Mayors Foundation came out with a ranking of the fastest growing urban areas in the world, and Srinagar ranked 92 out of the top 300 such urban areas,” he maintained.
It is been seen that the residential colonies have come up in the low-lying flood plains of Kandizaal, Soitang, Padshahi Bagh, Kursoo, and further downstream on the Jhelum River in the Kashmir valley. These areas used to be the flood basin of Jhelum and their filling up contributed to unprecedented flooding in September 2014.
The observers believe that unfortunately the laws have often been violated by the government itself. Across Bemina the state government has constructed colleges, offices and even the Srinagar Development Authority on marshy land that once acted as the city’s flood basin.
Yasin Malik’s detention: SHRC issues notice to CS, Home Sec, DGP
Srinagar, April 24: State Human Rights commission on Wednesday issued to notice Chief Secretary J&K, Commissioner Secretary Home department and DGP police asking to submit the detailed compliance report regarding detention and shifting of Muhammad Yasin Malik to NIA custody.
According to the KNO correspondent the petitioner, Ahsan Untoo, had pleaded before the SHRC that Malik is a political worker and was detained under Public Safety Act and later handed over to National Investigation Agency, calling it ‘illegal’. The notice to government officials was issued by State Human Rights commission chairperson Rtd justice Bilal Nazki.
“The authorities illegally allowed the police authorities to change the custody which is otherwise illegal in nature and handed over custody to NIA,” Untoo had pleaded before the commission. It was reported health conditions got deteriorated with unknown reasons and the family members; friends were not allowed to interact or to get the health information of Malik.
Untoo in his petitions said that when Malik’s lawyer met him on April 20, at RML Hospital, he was not able to have a conversation with the lawyer as he was ruthlessly beaten by the NIA authorities, he was rushed to the RML hospital in a very critical condition and since then no one has been allowed to interact with Malik.
“It creates apprehensions in the mind of family members and the general public of the valley that he might have been assassinated by the authorities and in this regard no communication has been made by the concerned authorities regarding the same,” he said in his petition.
Untoo had also pleaded before SHRC that a team be constituted who will receive a firsthand information regarding the wellbeing of Malik, and he be brought before the media so as the apprehensions regarding the assassination of Malik are put to rest.(KNO)
Vehicle carrying perishable food items be exempted from NH ban: Faesal
Srinagar, Apr 24: Calling upon the government to at least , exempt vehicles carrying perishable items, vegetables, fruits, poultry and livestock from National Highway Traffic ban, President J&K Peoples Movement, Dr. Shah Faesal Wednesday said that the ban is harming small traders the most.
In a statement issued, Dr. Faesal said that restrictions on the movement of vehicles carrying perishable items has put traders to huge loss adding that administration seems to be in deep slumber to pay heed to the pleas of affected people.
“I got a call last night that a vehicle carrying livestock has been stuck on the highway for last two days. There is shortage of fodder and the animals are about to die due to hunger”, Shah Faesal added.
He said that not only human beings but even animals are also suffering due to the highway ban. He has forcibly demanded to revoke the draconian measure immediately.
He said ban on movement of civilian traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is totally undemocratic and anti-people which is causing huge inconvenience to all sections of the society including small and marginal traders.
Rawalpora youth’s death: CCTV shows Umar falling down on a roadside: Police
Srinagar, Apr 24: Police on Wednesday said that questioning was on to ascertain the facts behind the mysterious death of a youth, Umar Bhat of Rawalpora’s Astanpora area.
Umar in his late 20s was found dead on Sunday after he left his home in the morning to attend a function at Tagore hall.
Station House Officer (SHO), Shergari Police station, Aftab Ahmad told The Kashmir Monitor that they were waiting for the postmortem report.
He said the CCTV footage available with the Police shows Umar falling on the road near Oxford school, Wanabal.
“It appears that he was under the influence of drugs, it is only an assumption. Only after postmortem report, we would be able to speak on the cause of death,” Aftab maintained.
He said they have recorded the statements of around 4-5 persons in connection with the case.
“His friends, including the one who accompanied him to Star Hospital (in Sanat Nagar), where he was initially brought for treatment, are being questioned,” he said.