Border Residents Return To Fields After Two Decades

Kathua- Jammu and Kashmir UT administration has brought smiles and new hopes to border residents of Hiranagar sector by facilitating them to cultivate land beyond the border fence abandoned two decades back.

The happy faces of farmers of the border belt of Hiranagar was a much anticipated outcome for the administration of Jammu & Kashmir as it has been putting in its concerted efforts to bring cultivation back on farmland along the International Border, an official spokesperson said Friday.

With the breakthrough efforts of the administration, he said, the farmers finally returned to their abandoned land together around 150 acres for the first time in 20 years, paving the way for a new era of prosperity for the border dwellers of Hiranagar of Kathua district.

“Pertinently, over 5000 acres of fertile land of farmers along the International Border spread across 22 border villages from Paharpur to Londi in Hiranagar sector remained fallow for two decades due to frequent firing/shelling from the Pakistan side hampering farmers financially. Besides, posing a serious disadvantage/threat to BSF (Border Security Forces) as the luxurious growth of weed in uncultivated land will obstruct the vigil on the intruders,” he said

As a Confidence Building Measure to restore the stalled farming activity, the official spokesperson said that UT administration made a restoration plan under which Agriculture Department with the help of BSF authorities roped in Bullet Proof Tractors and other logistics and undertook the herculean task of clearing weeds in area majorly wild reeds (Sarkanda) growth.

“After days of hard work to clear weeds, rounds of tilling in almost barren land, around 90 acres of land was successfully cultivated by sowing wheat crop. This attempt by the authorities yielded a produce of 185 quintals of Wheat as a reward of their efforts to make a congenial atmosphere for farming activity,” he said

“Soon after the ceasefire was announced by both the sides in February this year, the administration started mulling over the idea of putting the left out fallow land to productive use by encouraging farmers to cultivate their land themselves this time,” he added.

The official spokesperson further said that the UT administration made concerted efforts to bring farmers on board and held several rounds of meetings with stakeholders and all their issues were discussed, deliberated and addressed systematically as the farmers of the neighbouring country are cultivating up to zero line on their side.

He said that the idea of bringing cultivation back in border farmland initially received a cold response from the farming community as they were reluctant owing to uncertainty and apprehension regarding ceasefire violation from the Pakistani side.

“The team from the Agriculture and Revenue department was detailed to provide all support to the farmers under the security of BSF authorities. A framework was also devised to ensure smooth access to the farmers on the Zero line who were reeling under the constant threat of shelling from across the border,” he added.

Responding to the concerns raised by the farming community regarding the demarcation of the abandoned fields, the official spokesperson said that District Administration Kathua deputed teams of Revenue Department to take up the task of demarcation putting their concerns to rest.

He said that the farmers plough their fertile fields and started sowing wheat crop up to Zero Line across the fencing on Indo -Pak International Border.

“Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, Rahul Yadav and BSF Commandant, Atul Shah accompanied by Chief Agriculture Officer, Kathua Vijay Upadhyaya visited Border out Post (BoP) Chandwan on Forward Line on IB and began the sowing of wheat crops on Zero Line,” he said.

He further said that the farmers in large numbers started cultivation of wheat crop after the district administration, Kathua and BSF extended them full support of free seed and fertilisers, removed the bushes and levelled the land. The BSF authorities gave them full security cover to start cultivation.

The official spokesperson quoted the Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, Rahul Yadav as saying that under the direction of Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha, the administration provided all logistic support to farmers to encourage them to cultivate their fields on Forward Line. All additional support of seed, fertiliser and tractors has been given to farmers, he added. He said “We have a target to cultivate nearly 247 acres (100 hectares) of land this season and the rest of the area would be covered later on.

“Although the proposals regarding cultivation of Lemon Grass, Aloe Vera etc were put forth by the administration as they require minimum efforts on part of the farmers but farming community was of the view that contemporary rabi and kharif crops shall be best suited as far as its management, marketing and selling is concerned,” he said.

Receiving positive response from the initiative of UT administration, he said, there is a wave of optimism and positivity among the farming community of the border area.

“The success made so far has infused much hope among the farmers about the cultivation of the remaining land mass in coming times. This path breaking step of Administration of infusing a new life into the tormented souls will be a win-win strategy both for the farming community as well as UT administration from economic as well as strategic point of view,” the official spokesperson added.

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