Amid conversion of over 10 lakh kanals of farmland in a decade, Jammu and Kashmir government has finally admitted its failure stating that 'agriculture land is shrinking in the state with every passing day due to its unauthorized conversion'.
The minister for agriculture, GhulamNabiHanjura in a written reply to question about the conversion of agriculture land in recently concluded assembly session has stated "it is a fact that agriculture land is shrinking in the state with every passing day due to growing population, urbanization, industrialization, expansion of road, rail network, unauthorized change of land use etc."
As per agriculture department figures, JK has lost an estimated 10 lakh kanal agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes in the past 10 years primarily because of non-implementation the land conversion laws.
Official data further reveals that 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, an estimated 53,000 hectare farmland (equivalent to 10 lakh, 60 thousand kanal) has been converted to non-agricultural use.
According to the official record, the area under paddy cultivation was 158,000 hectare in 2012, shrinking to 141,000 hectare in 2015-16.
"The government enacted an act "The Jammu & Kashmir Prohibition on Conversion of Agricultural Land for Non- Agricultural Purposes Act 2011" (L.A. Bill No. 15 of 2011) to arrest the menace of conversion of agricultural land for non- agricultural purposes strictly in the State. But the Bill has been referred to the select committee. However the existing provisions in J&K land Revenue Act and Agrarian Reforms Act, which deal in conversion of certain types of land are being strictly enforced," the reply reads.
"Government has constituted a select committee comprising members of both the Houses to discuss the bill to check conversion of agriculture land for non- agricultural or commercial purposes before it is considered by the State Legislature again. The Bill namely "The Jammu & Kashmir prohibition on Conversion of Agricultural Land for Non- Agricultural Purposes Bill, 2011" (L.A. Bill No. 15 of 2011) was referred to the joint select committee of both the houses of the state legislature but with the dissolution of State Assembly, the said Bill having not been passed, got lapsed," it adds.
It may be recalled that government has recently revealed that shrinking farmlands are contributing towards the state's dependence on imports to meet food requirements in the state.
Jammu and Kashmir is fast losing its 'food independence' as state's dependence on imports has reached to its highest level of about 1 lakh metric tonnes in 2016-17.
The economic survey report 2017 reveals that in 2002-03, J&K imported 503 thousand metric tonnes of food grains, which rose to 952.55 thousand metric tonnes in 2016-17 due to shrinking farmlands.