Surviving the Water Crisis-III


Tragically, water flow to all the rivers in Jammu and Kashmir is decreasing. The perpetual snow line in Jammu and Kashmir reached 16,000 feet from 13,000 feet in the last several decades, which is happening at an alarming rate. Although a combination of factors are responsible like, global warming, shrinking forest cover and increasing human interference, fast melting of glacial ice, if, however, the water flow keeps receding at this rate, people won’t get water for even drinking.
However, as per Lawrence, the settlement commissioner
of Jammu and Kashmir in the British
period of the last decade of the nineteenth century,
agriculture land of the country at that time which
was under the agricultural activities stood at
1,195,555 acres. Further, according to the records
of 1992, the total area of Jammu and Kashmir under
all sectors of agriculture is 24.15 lac hectares, out
of which, 138,6867 hectares are rural and 10.28 lac
hectares are urban, although, only 3.3 percent of
total geographical area of the State is under Agricultural
It is to be noted that the statistics are available for
only 8.26 lac hectares . The rest of the area is under
mountains and forests. Still, in Jammu and Kashmir,
directly or indirectly more than 70 percent
of the population depends on agriculture but the
proportion of labour force engaged in agriculture
has declined from 85 percent in 1961, to 28 percent
by 2016. Jammu and Kashmir imports about 40
percent of food grains and 20 percent of vegetables
to meet its requirements. In,2000, 38 percent of land
area was agricultural land but only 11 percent was
used for crops.
In 2012, according to the official data of the department
of agriculture, government of Jammu and
Kashmir, the total area under paddy cultivation in
Kashmir division was 1,58,000 hectares which has
shrunk to all-time low of 1,42,000 hectares in 2017.
In four to five years, agro-holdings are lost double
the agriculture land lost in three decades,” the data
reveals, and the total area under paddy cultivation
has reduced by 3,40,000 kanals.
While the official figures present this gloomy
picture, experts predict that by the end of this century,
Kashmir will face a severe food-deficit and its
dependence on imports will increase by over 34 percent
to current rate.
In Jammu and Kashmir, 1981, the total area
under paddy cultivation in valley was at record
166,000 hectares and the same decreased to 158,000
hectares in 2012 shrinking the fertile land by 8000
hectares in three decades. Going by the figures, it
doesn’t look much of a decrease but what came after
2012 has disrupted all calculations. During the
last three years, the valley has lost 16650 hectares
of paddy land reducing the current area under rice
cultivation to 141,350 hectares. Official figures reveal
that the arable land in Jammu and Kashmir
has shrunk from 0.14 hectares per-person in 1981 to
0.08 hectares per-person in 2001 and further to 0.06
hectares per-person in 2012.
With the current rate (5550 hectares per year),
all is set to lose all of its paddy land in next 25 years
and by 2030 Jammu and Kashmir, especially valleys
of Kashmir, Chenab, Pirpanchal, Kargil and
Leh will be having acute shortage of food grains.
Essentially , at that time , requirement shall be 1.82
million tons of food grains and in 2040, the valley
will be bereft of any agricultural land to cultivate
rice and one could possibly see concrete jungle trespassed
by orchards. Yes, the major conversion of
paddy land has been due to economic reasons and
if the trend continues—coupled with the climatic
change—we will be 83 percent dependent on imports
for meeting our food requirements by the end
of this century.
Jammu and Kashmir under the Land Acquisition
Act 1894, Jammu Kashmir Land Revenue Act
1996, actually came into force in 1939, Jammu and
Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act 1976, Jammu and
Kashmir Prohibition on Conversion of Land and Alienation
of Orchards Act 1975 are some of the laws
already in place to check blatant conversion of agricultural
land for non-agriculture purposes. However,
despite strong legislations, illegal conversion of
agricultural land is going on unabated, mainly due
to non-existence of a comprehensive housing policy.
Although, in 2011, under the chairmanship of
horticulture ministry , a committee was set up by
the government for the preservation of the agricultural
land but unfortunately that the committee
failed to reach the conclusion and due to political
incongruity the proposed legislation was stopped.
In 2012, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir
passed directions to all the deputy commissioners
with an aim to ensure the implementation of the
provisions of agricultural Act and land revenue Act
to stop the conversion of agricultural land on their
respective jurisdictions of the state monitored by
commissioners but at the end of the day, nothing
was seen on ground.
Ironically, still, the Jammu and Kashmir government
continues to make tall claims to protect
the agriculture and forest land from further shrinking,
the State has already lost 875.665 hectares of
forest and agricultural rich land.
(To be Continued…)

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