High Court orders govt to stop conversion of agricultural land

High Court orders govt to stop conversion of agricultural land

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday directed Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to ensure strict action against conversion of agricultural land into residential/ commercial entities.
The direction was passed on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) which sought the High Court’s directions to Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), to not issue any building permission for establishing a residential colony over 40 kanals of agricultural land situated at Ranbir Garh, Srinagar.
The PIL was moved by Counsel AA Chesti before a division bench comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali. It argued that conversion of agricultural land into residential colonies or commercial entities would prove to be a disaster in the coming days.
The court after hearing the counsel issued notices to Commissioner Secretary to Govt, Revenue department, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Commissioner SMC, and private respondents – Mohammad Ismail Wagay, Nundi, Manzoor Ahmad Wagay, Bilquees Ara Mohammad, Afroza Akhter, Ulfat Ara and Nazir Ahmad Wagay – all residents of Zainakote, Srinagar.
The petitioner, Tasaduq Hussain Ganie, had raised contentions that if conversion of agricultural land to residential colonies was allowed to happen, it would adversely affect the rights and interests of farmers.
The petitioner through the litigation pointed to the government’s policy regarding change of land use. It was informed that under Government Order no. 138-Rev (S) of 2016 dated 07-10-2016, the state had adopted: “Whereas, in the State of Jammu and Kashmir, the land is not only an important factor of production but also the basic means of subsistence for majority of the people. Unplanned constructions like establishment of colonies, factories, brick kilns, shopping complexes and other commercial establishments, have severely affected the agricultural husbandry of the State.”
Under Section 133-A of the J&K Land Revenue Act, Svt, 1996, “No land which grows or has been growing shali crop, vegetables, or saffron lullis shall be used for any purpose other than agricultural purpose, without permission in writing of the Revenue Minister.”
Also, Section 13 of the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976, states “Restriction on utilization of land – (1) after the commencement of this Act no person shall hold land, otherwise than for personal cultivation (except where tenancy is permitted by this Act) or for residential purposes upto two kanals per family or, subject to the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition on Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act, 1975, for horticultural purposes or with the previous permission of the Revenue Minister or any officer nominated by him in this behalf for industrial or commercial purposes.”