Srinagar, December 02 (Kashmir Voice): In occupied Kashmir, for the last four years, 78,700 hectares of cultivable land has been converted to non-agricultural purposes.
According to media sources, Kashmir is fast losing its agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes. Agriculture Department data revealed that the Kashmir valley had 4, 67,700-hectares of agriculture land in 2015 which has shrunk to 3, 89,000 hectares in 2018. This indicates Kashmir has lost 78,700 hectares of agricultural land to non-agricultural purpose since 2015.
Large scale conversion of agricultural land into horticulture, unplanned construction including residential colonies, factories, brick kilns, shopping complexes and other commercial infrastructure have come across as prime reasons for the damage of agricultural land in Kashmir, officials said.
Environment lawyer, Nadim Qadri said there are several laws that prohibit illegal conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural purposes, but the implementation is poor. Qadir said, a high court judgment of 2013 also banned the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.
A senior official at the Agricultural Department said the agricultural land is shrinking fast. “People are also converting agricultural land into horticulture because it gives them good economic returns. To make matters worse, government seems keen on promoting horticulture sector only. However, there is no strong agricultural policy which can help save the agricultural land,” he said.
Director of Agriculture, Kashmir, Altaf Aijaz Andrabi said: “The agriculture sector in Kashmir has huge export potential because the valley has seasonal advantage. Further, it will decrease dependency to some extent.”
Andrabi noted that the rapid land conversion has to stop else it will prove catastrophic to the existence of the people in the Kashmir valley. KASHMIR VOICE