Ecological disaster

September 14, 2017 EDITORIAL 338 Views

Kashmir is witnessing an ecological disaster. A grim scenario which has cropped up in the state is the fast loss of agricultural land to commercial and residential purposes. Every time figures of the loss are revised by the government, the cause for concern only heightens. Every year there is an increase in the trend; rather than any decline. Government has admitted to the loss, describing it as a grave concern, but has not showed any inclination to arrest this. An estimated 53,000 hectares of agriculture land has been lost in the state due to conversion into residential and commercial purposes in the last one decade. Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura, voiced his concern, but not much has been done on ground to check this phenomenon. It seems a least priority for the government, but the pace at which the loss is being footed by the state can spur a real calamity. Kashmir has slowly turned from a production rich state to a consumer state. Even the diary products like cheese and butter are being imported and the ration depots procure the rice stocks from neighbouring Punjab. Limited paddy cultivation in Kashmir is feeding only a small section of population. The loss of agricultural land has pared down the employment opportunities to the services sector; and a number of youth who fail to get government jobs remain without any means of livelihood. Such a concern should have been shared by all government agencies, but it seems that every government department works in contravention to the agenda of every other one. Agriculture department sees loss of land a concern, but housing department frames policies that condone such actions and offer a scope for giving fillip to the growth through housing projects. A balance needs to be struck on the needs of the people and such a skewed scenario must be checked. It should alarm everybody that from 8.47 lakh hectares in 2005-06 the agricultural land has now got reduced to 7.94 lakh hectres in 2015-16, which is a decline of 53,000 hectares. Agriculture contributes 19.32 percent towards the GDP of the state and there are still 70 percent of the people who work directly or indirectly in agricultural sector, but the pace of the loss could further shrink employment opportunities.

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