Conversion of agriculture land goes unabated

Authorities mute spectators

MUKEET AKMALI

Srinagar, Dec 21: In blatant violation of norms, agricultural land in Srinagar district is shrinking at a fast pace with booming illegal colonies and constructions coming up on it under the nose of authorities, a survey has revealed. 
 According to the survey conducted by the Agriculture department, it has come to fore that Srinagar district has now only 4219 hectares of agriculture land, while the total cultivable area stands at 5444 hectares.
 Sources in the Agriculture department said earlier survey had revealed that the district has 4767 hectares of agriculture land. “It means that around 500 hectares of agriculture land has been converted for construction of residential and commercial establishments,” they said.
 Over the years, many illegal colonies have come up on agriculture land in Batpora, Ahmednagar, , HMT and Narbal on city outskirts.
 “The current survey points towards rapid decrease in the agriculture land. This will have disastrous effect on the population in coming years,” sources in the Agriculture department.
 “Most of the violations are done by the bureaucrats, businessmen and other officials who purchase large chunk of agriculture land and then converted it into colonies and subsequently sell it an exorbitant rates,” they said.
 However, sources also blamed alleged nexus between land mafia and some corrupt officials in the administration under whose patronage the conversion is going on at a rapid pace.
 “It is the duty of Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Srinagar Development Authority to ensure that the constructions coming in the district are not in violation of the Master Plan. But when the officials whose duty is to enforce writ of the Master Plan are hand in glove with land mafia, how can one accept anything from them?” said an official wishing not to be named.
 According to experts, conversion of farm lands for residential purposes have negative consequences on food security, water supply besides health of the people, both in the cities and in the peripheries area.
 “Our state is already facing food shortage and we are mostly depended on imports. If the conversion of agriculture land goes at the same pace, in coming years the state would have no agriculture land,” said an official of SKUAST.
 Agriculture was the largest land use category in the 1971, covering an area of 70.13 percent of Srinagar district which has been  reduced to 48.93 percent in 2009 at an annual rate of  -0.79  (-5.58 kms2) percent.
 The maximum conversion has taken place along major transportation corridors around the city, therefore, giving rise to ribbon settlements.
 The agriculturists believe that the government was sitting over the serious issue. “Governments need to do something on ground. Presently dozens of colonies are coming up on agriculture land in different parts of the Valley. Even residential houses and restaurants are being constructed on it. The law enforcement agencies need to curb the menace before the problem assumes horrendous ramifications,” they said.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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