Looming Land Scarcity

Looming Land Scarcity
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The vale of Kashmir , defined by pristine , awe inspiring beauty, however, in the main, is beset by certain structural features that have economic implications. These features or even problems are twofold: one is that it is land locked and the other, barring water and some minerals, Kashmir lacks abundant resources. In economics, there are three major factors of production, that is, land, capital and labour( some economists have included or added human capital into the mix). If this troika is taken as the yardstick of economic growth and development, then Kashmir could be held to be at the receiving end. It goes without saying that the vale is a capital scarce region and that labour and land might be the factors of production that could be of utility. But, if labour is considered, then there is an obvious issue: there no well developed markets to absorb surplus labour. This then leaves land as the sole factor of production that can not only have value but also be of utility. Yet again, there is, unfortunately, a problem. This pertains to the fact of rampant land use in Kashmir. There are multifarious reasons for this use, the primary being demographic changes in the form of population growth, the breakdown of joint families in favour of nuclear ones and development of new consumption patterns, among other things. All this, including, at times, sheer human greed, have created conditions that have put stress on our land resource. If both a medium and a long term view is taken of this, then only a bleak economic condition can arise. The question is: is the issue in contention remediable? If so, how? No easy answers lend themselves here. But, one tentative solution , in the nature of largely an observation, could be to tighten up and make the nature of urbanization in Kashmir a proactive one. Till now, it appears that the pattern of urbanization here follows demand and then operates according to its own dynamic and momentum which results in flawed, inefficient and poor use of land. Obviously, given the intensity and urgency of the issue, this needs to change. A proactive urbanization format needs to be developed and then instituted on an urgent basis. This could be complemented by land conservation policies and developing its aesthetic value in the process. If land is the major factor of production in Kashmir, it must be and needs to be valued. Let the idea be taken to heart and the process started now!