Stringent provisions in place on Land Conversion: Ajaz

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JAMMU- Minister of State for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation, Mr. Ajaz Ahmed Khan while replying to a Calling Attention Notice by Dr. Bashir Ahmed Veeri informed the House that it is a fact that stringent provisions are already in place under the Land Revenue Act and other Acts like the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act, Prohibition on Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act etc. regarding conversion of Agricultural land for non-agriculture purposes.

 However, keeping in view the developmental activities like construction of roads, bridges, acquisition of land for Railways and other public purposes, lot of unavoidable conversion has taken place during the last few years, he maintained.

The Minister said that there is a provision under the J&K Agrarian Reforms Act for conversion of land for construction of residential houses up to 2 kanals without seeking prior permission from the competent authority.

Despite presence of stringent legislation, there are instances where illegal conversion of agricultural land has taken place, he added and maintained that this has mainly occurred due to non-existence of a comprehensive housing policy in the state. As and when such a policy comes into force such instances will automatically get checked.

He said that the un-authorised conversion of agricultural land, is mainly taking place in and around urban areas and its sub-urbs, whereas it is nominal in rural areas. He added that along the National Highway, the conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes is due to the commercial potential of the said land, as people generally tend to adopt such activities which are more profitable. However, as compared to the quantum of agricultural land which has been acquired for various public purposes throughout the state the conversion for a private purpose is much less, he said.

The Minister said that although, good quantum of agricultural land has been converted for non-agricultural purposes, but it is also a fact that all such conversions are not illegal because in a good number of cases, the permissions have been obtained from the competent authority for such conversions.

Mr. Ajaz further said that so far as section 28-A of the Agrarian Reforms Act is converted, the purpose of the said section is to check the alienation of land vested with the tillers under the said Act. Under the said section, it has clearly been envisaged that in case of any alienation in contravention of the provisions of the said Act, the Tehsildar (Assistant Collector Ist Class) is competent to escheat the said land to state, he said maintaining that in order to ensure that illegal conversion does not take place the instructions stand already issued to all the revenue field agencies to implement the land laws in letter and spirit and serious efforts are being made to check the illegal conversion of agricultural land to the maximum possible extent.

The Minister said that there are however, various reasons for the conversion, which include acquisition of land for various important projects of public importance like Roads, Hydro-Power Projects, Industrial Estates, Non-existence of a comprehensive housing policy, increase in the number of nuclear families, manifold increase in population, fragmentation of joint families, migration of rural population towards Urban/semi Urban areas and shifting of agricultural activity towards horticulture and other cash crops.

He said instructions have, however, been issued to all the revenue field agencies to ensure implementation of all the land laws in letter and spirit, so that illegal conversion of agricultural land does not take place. 

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