Omar, Mehbooba criticize government order to convert farmland

Srinagar, December 17: Former J&K chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah on Friday criticized the J&K government order allowing the conversion of farmland to non-farm use.

While Mehbooba called it “engineered demographic changes” in the old state, Omar said the latest move “rekindles fears about the motivations behind such decisions.”

“JK admin’s new policy allowing the conversion of farmland to non-farm use reveals their nefarious engineering conceptions of demographic changes. The development program is a ruse. The latest regulations don’t even require the 15-year domicile certificate as a prerequisite, ”PDP chief and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said in a tweet.

“After depriving the inhabitants of their fair share of government jobs, such abrupt political decisions which open the way for foreigners to buy land from J&K are only taken to further weaken the inhabitants,” she said.

The administration, in an about-face on Thursday, paved the way for the conversion of farmland to non-farm use, just 13 months after drafting laws to protect farmland in Union territory.

‘Allowing the use of farmland for non-farm purposes is another nail in the coffin of’ land to the plowman. This historic reform has been one of the main reasons for the low levels of poverty and it will also threaten the food security of the people of J&K, ”said Omar Abdullah, vice president of the National Conference, in a tweet.

“The fact that this land use conversion does not even require the 15-year certificate of domicile as a prerequisite will also rekindle fears over the motives for such decisions,” Omar added.

The National Conference, in a statement, denounced changes to regulations to convert agricultural land to non-agricultural use, saying the measures have rekindled fears over the motives for the decisions.

Party spokesman Imran Nabi Dar said, while strongly opposing the new land use regulation ordinance. “The fear of demographic change has never been far from people’s minds and this land use change will only reinforce those fears. Besides the fact that this land use conversion does not even require the fifteen year certificate of domicile as a prerequisite, will also rekindle fears of demographic change, ”he said.

“Jammu and Kashmir is rapidly losing its ‘food independence’ as its dependence on imports peaked at around 1 lakh per metric ton in 2016-17. This will further exacerbate the already growing deficit food grains in the region. This decision will worsen the grain deficit and make solutions to the already endemic crisis more elusive, “he added.

The party spokesman said that in April 2012, the J&K High Court passed instructions against the misuse of agricultural land, sensing the enormity of the crises. “Our region is a high altitude region, where land holdings are very low. Farmers in Jammu and Kashmir are officially recognized as marginal farmers due to very small farms estimated at 0.55 hectares in the agricultural census. This measure will push them even further to the wall, ”he said, calling for an immediate withdrawal of the amendment. (GNS)