Protect state land
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court last month directed government to appoint two authorities, one each at Srinagar and Jammu, for implementation of local laws and Supreme Court directions regarding non-conversion of agriculture land as well as retrieval of Kahcharie (pasture) land from encroachers across the state.
There has been an alarming trend of constructions on agriculture land and over 3,40,000 kanals of land had already shrunk in last four years due to government’s failure to curb the farmland conversion.
The Land Revenue and Agrarian Reforms Acts empower the revenue authorities to stop the conversion of the land for other uses such as construction of houses, etc., and take action against the violators.
The apex court (in the Jagpal Singh and others v. State of Punjab and others, 2011) has laid down that illegalities committed in nature of usurpation of Common Lands of the village communities cannot be regularized and the common interest of the villagers cannot be made to suffer merely because the unauthorized occupation has subsisted for many years.
It had directed the Chief Secretaries of all the States to formulate the schemes for eviction of illegal and unauthorized occupants of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, Shamilat Land for the common use of villagers.
While the state is under popular rule, it is high time for the government to act swiftly and sincerely for halting agricultural land conversion but also take all measures that can enhance the state’s own food production. Farm owners and people associated with cultivation must be encouraged with benefits so that they find it financially viable and profitable to retain land for food production.
With incentive, and scientific and technological help, farming can turn into a rewarding occupation in the state as its per hectare production is still 10 to 15 times lower than the agriculturally developed regions in the world. Increased yield can not only make the state self-sufficient in food but also enhance the living standards of the most population whose livelihood depends on agriculture. The state administration must ensure that conversion of the agriculture land is stopped forthwith.