While criticizing the government’s decision to transfer more than 9,600 kanals land for creating 37 new Industrial Estates (IE) across J&K, the Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement on Sunday said it would prove disastrous for the land-deficit Jammu and Kashmir as agriculture land holding was constantly decreasing and agri-based economy was under threat.
In a statement, Chairman RTI Movement, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat said as per the 10th Agriculture Census of 2015- 2016, the agricultural land holding in J&K was mere 0.59 hectares. “This was a little more, 0.62 hectares in 2011. The national average is around 1.08 hectares which is much higher comparatively. In Kashmir the land holding is again less, around 0.45 hectares,” Bhat said. “Given this scenario any government policy relating to agricultural land acquisition in J&K, including for “development projects” like setting up of Industrial Estates, has to take into account its unique natural and topographical features.”
Bhat said in Jammu division, the bulk of agricultural activity takes place in four districts of Jammu, Samba, Udhampur and Kathua, where the average landholdings also range from 0.68 hectares to 0.90 hectares. He said the other districts, Poonch, Rajouri, Reasi, Ramban, Doda and Kishtwar were largely hilly offering only limited cultivation possibilities.
“We have dozens Industrial Estates in J&K without any infrastructure and acquiring huge land to create more such estates is completely an unwise decision,” Bhat said. “We appeal to the government to create green jobs by increasing subsidies in dairy farming, sheep farming, vegetable growing, apple and fruit cultivation, plus growing of exotic flowers and herbs for medicinal and aromatic purposes,” Bhat said. He said on 9600 kanals land, instead of setting up factories that cause air, water and noise pollution, the government can help set up scores of agri-based farms.
The RTI Movement has appealed to Lt Governor GC Murmu and Chief Secretary BVR Subramanhyam to revisit the decision and ensure that 9,654 kanals land was utilized for agri-based startups across J&K.