Bilal Bashir Bhat
Srinagar, Dec 11: Historically the civilization began with agriculture. When our nomadic ancestors began to settle and grow their own food, human society was thus forever changed. Not only did villages, towns and cities begin to flourish, but so did knowledge, the arts and the technological sciences. And for most of history, society’s connection to the land was cherished. Human communities, no matter how stylish, could not ignore the importance of agriculture. To be far from dependable sources of food was to risk malnutrition and starvation.
In modern times, however, many in the urban world have forgotten this fundamental connection. Kashmir happens to be the paragon of this grim veracity. Large number of productive agricultural land has been converted in to non-agricultural purposes in the Valley of Kashmir. According to reliable sources, at least 10,000 hectares (2 lakh kanals) of agricultural land in Kashmir have been converted to or used for non-agricultural purposes in the past two decades, primarily on account of failure of the Jammu and Kashmir government to curb the large-scale conversion process of agricultural land.
As a matter of fact, the “net sown or cultivated” area of 3.5 lakh hectares in Kashmir, more than 10,000 hectares have already been converted to non-agricultural use that too right under the noose of the enforcement agencies including the Revenue Department.
One can witness this sad reality of conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural purposes everywhere in the Kashmir Valley. The areas falling under the Srinagar –Leh Highway bear epitome of this shameful veracity. Sane voices throughout length and breadth of Kashmir express serious concern over falling of agriculture land to non-farming use.
Even in once fertile agriculture areas right from Ahmadnagar to Kangan a jungle of construction is coming up on once very beautiful paddy land. Commercial constructions have been coming up fast on agricultural land in villages namely Pandch,Sumbal, Barsoo, Kurhama, Manigam, Wusan, Kangan, Cherwan and adjoining areas.
The conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural purposes has resulted blocking various irrigation channels thus affecting their agricultural practices.
‘The rapid conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural purposes is direly impacting the agricultural produce. A kanal of land (about 505 sq. metres) would sell for around Rs.50, 000 to RS 1 lac in my village a few years back. But, today within no time it is priced at range of Rs 7 to Rs.8 lakh,’ said Gulzar Ahmad Wani , a resident of north Kashmir’s Manigam village in Ganderbal district.
According to sane voices, this high price is usually quite tempting for the poor farmers who wants to sell the land and set up some business for their unemployed children.
Even common voices are worried about this grim veracity. Kumail Ahmad, a student said, “Over the past few decades, a large quantity of agricultural land in Kashmir have been converted to or used for non-agricultural purposes in the past two decades, primarily on account of the failure of the Jammu and Kashmir government to curb the large-scale conversion of our agricultural land. This is quiet shameful veracity that out of the “net sown or cultivated” area of 3.5 lakh hectares in Kashmir, a large number of agricultural land has already been lost.”
The realities call upon the authorities to wake up to the grim realities and save agricultural land of Kashmir from degradation.(KNB)