Thanks To Lenient Laws, State Losing Agricultural Land At Fast Pace

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Srinagar: Even though the government continues to make tall claims about farming new laws to save the agriculture and forest land from further shrinking, the state has already lost 875.665 hectares of forest and agricultural rich land.

Most of this land has come under increasing residential and commercial constructions, road construction and other projects, official data reveals.

Under the Prime Minister’s Gram Sadak Yojina (PMGSY), the state has reportedly lost 875.665 hectares of forest land and experts fear if the constructions continued at the same pace, it will pose a serious threat to the forests, commonly known as green gold of Kashmir.

“It would push the wild animals to move towards residential areas that will accordingly increase the chances of man-animal conflict,” sources said.

Official sources further added that 875.6647 hectares of forest land has been used for road construction only under PMGSY till date for which the government had incurred an expenditure of Rs over 270 Crores.

Unlike in urban areas, the government has till date not been able to frame hard and fast rules to monitor the mechanism of constructing roads in rural areas.

“We do need roads for more and more connectivity, but in a planned way so that we preserve our forest and agricultural land. Unfortunately everything goes in a haphazard manner here,” an official in R&B department wishing not to be named said.

As per the norms, before constructing a road through forest areas it is mandatory to get a clearance from the forest department.

“19 schemes at Rs 223.49 crore were sanctioned under NABARD and CRF (Central Road Fund) respectively over the years,” sources said.

Environmental experts said the unabated trend of construction of roads and buildings is due to the lack of stringent laws to counter the unplanned constructions, which has taken a heavy toll on the fragile ecology of the state like J&K, for which “natural beauty is the major source of economy”.

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