As over 10 lakh kanals of agriculture land has been converted for non-agricultural purposes in a decade, making Jammu and Kashmir food-deficit, the government in a move to deter the practice of unabated conversion of farmlands, has decided to take harsh disciplinary action against officials under whose jurisdiction conversion takes place.
"Any official found hand in glove with persons involved in agriculture land conversion will be taken to task. I have already conveyed to the officials in the Revenue department as our state can't bear the further burden of unabated conversion of agriculture land," Minister for Revenue A. R Veeri told Greater Kashmir.
"Government has already conveyed it to the officials that tough action will be taken against persons involved in converting agriculture land for non agricultural purposes," the Minister said.
He said that his ministry has decided to take disciplinary action against the officials who are found helping out any person in converting agriculture land.
"Already directions have been passed to Deputy Commissioners, Tehsildars, Patwaris to stop illegal conversion of agriculture land," he said adding, "I have warned them they are responsible for stopping the menace of illegal conversions, if they fail to do so, disciplinary action as per the law will be initiated against them."
He said that there is already law in place; however there is need to implement it properly.
"I am personally monitoring it and we have stopped conversion at various places," he added.
Unplanned constructions like raising of colonies, factories, brick kilns, shopping complexes and other commercial establishments have severely affected the agricultural landscape of the State.
Although sufficient laws are in place which prohibit or restrict the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, in the absence of housing policy, the State has witnessed unplanned growth of residential and commercial establishments.
As per official data, Jammu and Kashmir had 8.47 lakh hectare agriculture land in 2005-06 which has shrunk to 7.94 lakh hectare till 2015-16. This means, the loss in a decade is estimated 53,000 hectare farmland (equivalent to 10,60,000 kanal) which has been converted for non-agricultural activities across the state.
J&K's Economic Survey has painted a very grim picture of state's dependence on outside supplies to meet its food requirements.
"The local production of food-grains in the state does not keep pace with the requirements, as the agriculture sector faces challenges on various fronts. Moreover, the scope for increasing the net area sown is very limited and the landholding is shrinking due to continuous breakdown of joint family system, growing urbanization and population explosion," reads the State's Economic Survey report 2016.