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Wetland, Farmlands shrinking at an alarming rate in Kashmir

Kashmir News Service

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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.


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Kashmir

Situation calls for active involvement of youth in politics: Farooq

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, July 21: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference party president and Member of Parliament from Srinagar Dr Farooq Abdullah on Sunday said the youth of the state have a key role to play in protecting the interests of the state, saying the need of the hour calls for active engagement of youth in state politics.

Party president while addressing the workers, functionaries here at party functionaries said the old guard in politics has done its bid now the situation calls for the active involvement of youth in politics.

“Today the very existence of our identity is facing onslaught from all sides. The state is heading towards a crucial trial. The forces as are inimical to our identity and special constitutional position are trying and will speed up its efforts to divide us. The powers that be will leave no stone unturned to obliterate our identity. Our enemies want us divided, our unity threatens them, and it frustrates their machinations. However, if at this juncture we don’t strike unity then the coming generation will never forgive us. At the moment our it is very identity of our state that is at stake. There are forces who are contriving to change the demography of our state. It is imperative for the youth to come forward and respond to the challenges, our ill-fated state is facing. The transition from old to young is necessary; we have a sprawling population of youth, the need of the hour is too tap its potential,” he said adding, “once forthcoming government with Omar Sahib in the vanguard of it, will ensure greater justice for youth. We will empower youth by providing them safe spaces to pursue their vocations. Addressing employment will crown the agenda of the forthcoming government led by Omar Sahib. We cannot think of moving forward without feeling the pulse of youth, we have to make amends to the wrongs committed by successive government since 2015,” he said.

 

On the occasion PDP founding member, District President Pulwama and former Minister in previous Coalition government Muhammad Khalil Bandh joined National Conference . He had won Pulwama assembly constituency for PDP in 2002, 2008, and 2014 assembly elections. Party president welcomed the new entrant into the party fold and said that his joining the party at a time when forces in Delhi doesn’t want us united. While welcoming Mr Khalil Bandh into the party fold, party president said, “I appreciate the moral integrity of Bandh Sahib; he has taken a judicious decision at a time when forces as are inimical to state are contriving to divide our voice. Posterity will applaud the decision of Bandh sahib for strengthening the efforts for the protection of the special status of the state. I welcome him and I am hopeful that his coming will strengthen the party at grass root level. It is indeed a lovely return; it comes in the wake of efforts to unite the state against the forces as want to divide our voice.”

Party president while underscoring the need for uniting the efforts to end the trend of drug abuse among youth said, “The need of the hour calls for joint societal efforts to tackle with the menace. The issue has to be addressed with all seriousness jointly by various stakeholders that include the government as well. But the greater responsibility lies on the shoulders of schools, parents and the community leaders. The need of the hour calls for inclusive policy against the menace focusing mainly on three components: policing, de- addiction, and prevention.  The situation should be immediately tackled with a brawny response before it morphs into a much dire situation.  It would be better if the state government comes up with an inclusive policy against the menace of drug addiction and narcotic smuggling. The policy frame work should include the inputs of health, police and education departments. Various civil society groups should also be taken on board before evolving such a state level strategy against the menace.”

The new entrant into the party Muhammad Khalil Band while addressing the workers said, “Our state is facing tremendous onslaught on its identity. I am of the thought that only NC can salvage the state towards safe shores. It is NC only that can meet the challenges our state is facing.”

Among others party’s general secretary Haji Ali Muhammad Sagar, Provincial president Nasir Aslam Wani, south zone president Dr Bashir Veeri, YNC provincial president Salman Ali Sagar, Political Advisor to party President Mushtaq Guroo, Gh Mohiudin Mir, Showkat Mir, Pir Muhammad Hussain, Qafir Ur Rahman, Sheikh Rafi, Dr Mohd Shafi, Dr Ghulam Nabi, Javaid Rahim Bhat also welcomed the new entrant into the party fold. The new entrant was festooned with garlands on the occasion.

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Kashmir

Demarcation of Hokersar wetland to be completed within one week: Admn

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 20: The Srinagar administration has begun the process of peripheral demarcation of Hokersar wetland area falling within the jurisdiction of the Srinagar district.
This comes after demarcation of the Khushalsar lake and mapping of its encroachments which were completed after increased efforts during recent months.
Committee comprising eight members from different departments formed to undertake the peripheral demarcation of the wetland area will start the process next week. The process will be completed within one week.
This was informed in a meeting held Saturday under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary.
The meeting was informed that Hokersar wetland has two boundaries including the southern boundary falling within the jurisdiction of the Budgam district and the northern boundary falling within that of the Srinagar district. It was said that peripheral demarcation in Srinagar will be held from Narbal to Zainakote areas where it falls.
The demarcation will be followed with government notification of the wetland area aimed at its restoration that will then follow. It was said the demarcation of the boundaries will also include their geotagging to enable easier access to location-specific information about the wetland area.
Meanwhile the district administration has banned dumping of solid waste in and up to 500 meters from the Hokersar wetland. The aim of the restrictions is to prevent further damage to the wetland.
It is notable that first demarcation of the Hokersar wetland area was done in 1935 and an area of 13.75 square kilometres was notified as its total area through a cabinet order issued in 1945. The wetland has been subjected to massive encroachments over huge parts of its area over the last three decades.
ADC Srinagar Kuldeep Krishan Sidha and all eight members of the demarcation committee were present in the meeting.

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Kashmir weary of leaders elected with 10% vote: Jitendra

Press Trust of India

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Jammu, July 21: Union minister Jitendra Singh Sunday remarked that Kashmir is weary of leaders elected with “mere 10 per cent vote” who then make it to the Lok Sabha or state assembly with vested interest of perpetuating political dominance by a few families or individuals.

Taking a dig at Kashmiri leaders, he also said politicians of Kashmir are still “clinging on to the past”, without realising that the common voter comprising 70 per cent of youth has already moved on.

“Kashmir is weary of leaders elected with mere 10 per cent vote, who then make it to Lok Sabha or state assembly, with the vested interest of perpetuating political dominance by a few families and individuals,” he said. The Minister of State for Personnel said if an election is held in a “free atmosphere” with reasonable voter turnout, people will outright reject the politicians who have, over the last several decades, thrived on low voter turnout.

 

When asked about his often repeated statement that militancy in Kashmir is in its last phase, he said in an interview to Rajya Sabha TV Sunday that nobody in the Valley wants militancy to continue, except for a handful of politicians. “They have developed vested interest in contesting and winning elections in an insecure atmosphere, but people have now understood their selfish designs and are keen to get rid of them,” he said.

Refuting allegations of “weakening” the Right To Information Act through the RTI Amendment Bill introduced by him in the Lok Sabha recently, Singh said the Bill is meant to streamline and institutionalise the functioning of the Information Commission. The RTI Act 2005 was framed by the UPA government in haste, and the Modi government is only trying to fill in the missing links, he argued.

Reiterating the Centre’s emphasis on “performance with integrity”, the Union minister also justified the recent orders for premature retirement of officials whose integrity was under doubt or the performance not found up to the mark. He also defended the government’s ‘lateral entry’ mode, which relates to appointment of private sector specialists, saying in the emerging scenario, India deserves the best of talent from whatever source available, to handle some of the most “innovative, original and specialised” schemes introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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