Losing the productive land

Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 19 2018 9:44PM | Updated Date: Feb 19 2018 9:44PM

People, particularly in the rural areas, engaged in farming have been fritting away the gains accrued to them after the introduction and implementation of land reforms in the state. That is very sad. The abolishing of the big landed estates and transfer of land to the tiller had come as a bonanza to the farming community. This could have taken the state towards self-sufficiency in food grains. But, as a community, for our short-sightedness, we failed to consolidate the gains of the reforms. Instead of achieving self-sufficiency in the food production, the imports of the state in food grains and other agriculture products have multiplied manifold. In fact, despite tall claims by various departments responsible for boosting agriculture production, it has been brought to a naught. From collard greens to a bowl of rice we are totally dependent on imports from outside the state. It is disturbing to note that despite having a vast track of green pastures spreading all over the state we have been importing mutton from the deserts of Rajasthan every year for thousands of crores, and likewise poultry from neighboring Punjab. The state administration has largely been responsible for increasing the dependence of the state for imports from the bordering states.

The staggering figures about the conversion of farming land for non-agriculture purpose tell a horrifying story about the food scarcity the state would be confronted with if left unchecked. The state in just one decade has lost ten lakh kanals of agriculture land to non-agriculture purposes. The data provided by the state also reveals the state had 8.47 lakh hectare agriculture land in 2005-06 which has shrunk to 7.94 lakh hectare till 2015-16. That means 53,000-hectare farmland has been lost to non-productive purposes. In just three years 2012-2015, 17000 hectares of high yielding paddy land has been utilized for construction, and other purposes. All this did not happen on its own, but with the active connivance of the administration, more particularly revenue department. For ministers, legislators, and bureaucrats having vested interest, the government has failed to reign in the revenue officials who are known to possess disproportionate assets. This could have checked the menace to a good extent. It is time for the government to act on a war footing.