Blatant violations in conversion of land for residential colonies in north Kashmir
Kupwara, August 31
The unabated conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes in Kupwara, Handwara and Baramulla towns of north Kashmir is taking its toll on productivity.
|North Kashmir produces over 60 per cent of foodgrain (mainly rice) in the Valley and over 90 per cent people are involved in the cultivation of paddy|
Thousands of kanals of land have been converted into residential colonies in violation of Section 133 (A) of the Land Revenue Act. At many places, commercial units have been set up.
Construction work is going on rapidly on agricultural land (mostly paddy fields) on the outskirts of these towns. “If the construction work goes on at the same pace, we will soon be left with no agricultural land in the area,” said Abdul Ahad, a farmer.
Sources say bureaucrats and top businessmen in connivance with revenue department officials raise residential colonies and put the houses on sale.
“They earn handsomely from the practice as poor farmers sell their land for a song,” a source said.
The priceless land is shrinking alarmingly as residential houses are fast replacing farmland.
The shrinking of agricultural land is also taking its toll on the livestock as they suffer from insufficient fodder, with the degradation of pastures.
“The conversion of land has led to a severe shortage of fodder for the livestock. The situation will get worse if the practice is not checked soon,” said Shahzad Ahmad, another farmer.
Many believe increasing urbanisation is bound to thrive in the absence of a stringent law, preventing the use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.
“The government has failed to bring a Bill in the state legislature to put a blanket ban on construction on agricultural land. In such a situation, we are destined to lose agricultural land,” said Ghulam Nabi, a farmer.
North Kashmir produces over 60 per cent of foodgrain (mainly rice) in the Valley, as over 90 per cent people are involved in the cultivation of paddy.
Kupwara Deputy Commissioner Sarmad Hafeez said: “We have taken cognizance of the matter. A meeting of revenue, municipal and other officials was held in this regard. I have given directions to the agencies concerned to book the violators. The authorities will carry out demolition wherever required.”