The state government has been unable to prevent the conversion of agricultural land to commercial and residential purposes, despite the existence of several prohibitions.
In the absence of any monitoring agency, the establishment of hotels, retail malls, and residential dwellings on agricultural and horticultural land continues apace in Kashmir.
Despite the existence of many regulations, the state government has been unable to prevent the conversion of agricultural land to commercial and residential uses.
Thousands of kanals of agricultural land have been changed for commercial and other purposes in Kashmir over the years, according to Agriculture Department officials.
Despite relevant laws in place, authorities fail to ensure compliance
The J&K Land Revenue Act of 1996 makes it illegal to convert paddy or vegetable land to any other use. Construction of residential and commercial structures on farmland is a breach of the approved Master Plan 2035 of the Srinagar Metropolitan Region, in addition to breaking the law.
The UT administration had been reprimanded by the High Court on multiple occasions, and the authorities were ordered to ensure that no agricultural land was converted for commercial, residential, or industrial uses.
Agriculture is the most important source of revenue for the UT since it employs over 70% of the people directly or indirectly.
J-K arable land has been declining over the last many decades
The Economic Survey Report also projected a dismal picture of agricultural land conversion, claiming that it is occurring “at an alarming rate” and resulting in increased reliance on food imports from outside the state.
According to the research, the amount of arable land per person in J&K has decreased from 0.14 hectare per person in 1981 to 0.08 hectare per person in 2001, and then to 0.06 hectare per person in 2012.
It is in place to mention that arable land is any land capable of being ploughed and used to grow crops.
Unemployment predicted to increase further due to shrinking farmlands
According to an assessment by Town Planning Organisation Kashmir, the conversion of agricultural land in Srinagar to non-farm activities would dramatically reduce the number of employees in the primary sector in the next 15 years.
According to the research, conversion in the Srinagar district will cut occupations such as farmers and agricultural labourers from 8% to 3% by 2035.
Divisional Commissioner also highlighted the violations
Pandurang K Pole, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, also evaluated the progress made in terms of delineation, land transfer, boundary wall construction, geocoordinate pillars, and clearance of encroachments on wetlands such as Wullar, Hokersar, Gilsar, Anchar, Narkara, and Manasbal lakes, on multiple occasions.
The official event emphasized the need for constant surveillance and directed those in charge to take strict measures, including filing FIRs against offenders who engage in repeated illegal acts.
Time to arrest the growth of illegal constructions on arable land
However, according to environmental experts, the conversion of agriculture and horticulture zones with the Revenue authority’s authorization and consent for residential and commercial buildings is rapidly turning Kashmir into a concrete jungle.
It, therefore, becomes imperative for the UT administration as well as the concerned officials to take action against violations of the construction norms and disallow residential and commercial constructions on arable land.