Agricultural land conversion
Post by RK News on Monday, August 7, 2023
In JK Union Territory, agriculture and its allied sectors continue to be the backbone of the economy. Industrialization has been a very slow process in the region, thereby increasing the dependence on the agrarian economy. However, the agricultural potential in the fertile belts of Jammu and Kashmir is immense and if tapped properly, the territory can witness growth in double digits. Two issues that have cropped up recently in the mentioned scenario are the predictions about food security which is said to become intense in future and the conversion of agricultural lands for commercial and residential purposes. With new residential areas and commercial places coming up every year there is an increase in the trend rather than any decline. Government has admitted to the loss and described it as a grave concern, but has not shown any inclination to stop it. Thousands of hectares of agricultural land has been lost in the territory due to conversion into residential and commercial purposes in the last one decade. It seems a least priority for the government, but the pace at which the loss is being footed by the UT can spur a real calamity. Kashmir has slowly turned from a production rich region to a consumer region. Even the diary products like cheese and butter are being imported and the ration depots procure the rice stocks from neighboring states. Paddy cultivation in Kashmir is now feeding only a small section of the population. The loss of agricultural land has pared down the employment opportunities to the services sector; and a number of youth who fail to get government jobs remain without any means of livelihood. Such a concern should have been shared by all government agencies, but it seems that every government department works in contravention to the agenda of everyone else. Agriculture department sees loss of land a concern, but the housing department frames policies that condone such actions and offer a scope for giving fillip to the growth through housing projects. A balance needs to be struck on the needs of the people and such a skewed scenario must be checked. All illegal constructions and conversions must cease immediately. The government must strictly implement laws that prohibit the conversion of agricultural land to non-agriculture purposes. Green zones in Jammu and Kashmir need to be extended, so that the region can benefit from the agriculture-dependent economy.