Srinagar, June 23 (KMS): In Indian illegally occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK), the conversion of agricultural land for commercial purposes, is continuing unabated in several areas of Islamabad particularly along the old National Highway.
The Section 133 of Land Revenue Act strictly prohibits the conversion of agricultural land for non-agriculture purposes, however the authorities in IIOJK are watching as mute spectators.
Huge commercial structures are coming up in the middle of paddy land around Islamabad Railway Station. The constructions are also being raised on both sides of Islamabad-Bijbehara, Islamabad-Qazigund, Islamabad-Pahalgam, Islamabad-Kokernag and along other roads in the districts.
“Initially agricultural land is filled and then they begin to raise illegal constructions on it without seeking land conversion permission from the Revenue authorities,” local residents told media.
They alleged that Patwaris strike monetary deals with the violators and therefore never inform the higher authorities.
“Although the officers often commute on these roads, they too shut their eyes to allow influential people to convert the agricultural land for non-agriculture purposes,” they said.
They alleged that poor residents who own land along highway and inter-district roads are never allowed to raise constructions and were deliberately being forced to sell the land to rich and influential people.
“This isn’t just the violation of Section 133 of Land Revenue Act but it is more than that now many officers in Revenue Department are working as touts and they compel poor to sell land,” they alleged.
Questioning the administration and Revenue Department Islamabad residents demanded action against revenue officers for allowing conversion of agriculture land and being involved in allowing huge commercial constructions on it.
“The government is sitting over this grave issue. They need to do something to save this land or allow everyone to use the land as they wish as the ban instead of saving the land was encouraging corruption,” residents opined.
Talking to media, Assistant Commissioner Islamabad, Syed Yasir admitted the conversion of agriculture land for commercial and non-agricultural purposes was going on at ‘certain’ places.
In 2011 the department of agriculture IIOJK had carried out a survey which revealed 2 lakh kanals of agricultural land in Kashmir has been converted for the use of commercial and other purposes. The survey revealed that around 500 hectares of agricultural land in Kashmir has been converted for construction of residential and commercial establishments.
According to the ‘December 2016 IIOJK’s policy document on land use’, Kashmir is losing its prime agricultural land and wetlands to rapid urbanization and faulty land-use.
Figures of the Revenue Department of IIOJK reveal that Kashmir is annually losing an average of 1,375 hectares of agricultural land.