Mehbooba, Omar slam changes in J&K land use policy

Srinagar: Former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah Friday lashed out at the Jammu and Kashmir administration for changes in the land use laws, claiming the new policy would adversely impact the people of the Union Territory.

Mehbooba Mufti, the PDP president, alleged the new laws enabling conversion of agricultural land to nonagricultural purposes reveals designs to engineer demographic change in Jammu and Kashmir.

The development agenda is a ruse. Latest regulation doesn’t even require the 15 yr domicile certificate as a prerequisite, she tweeted.

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She was reacting to the government’s change in land use laws that allows the use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.

“After depriving locals of their rightful share of govt jobs, such abrupt policy decisions that pave the way for outsiders to buy land in J&K are taken only to further disempower locals,” she said.

National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the changes in the land use rules would undo the major reform undertaken in the erstwhile state.

Allowing use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes is another nail in the coffin of the land to the tiller reforms in J&K. This landmark reform has been a major reason for the low levels of poverty and it will also threaten the food security of the people of J&K, he said.

“The fact that this conversion of land use doesn’t even require the 15 year domicile certificate as a prerequisite will also rekindle fears about the motives behind such decisions,” he added.

CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami also criticised the changes made to the land use laws.

“The slogan of ‘development’ is a red herring. Converting agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes is a plot to serve the interests of corporate and real estate.

“It will adversely impact our food security and be insidious for our economy,” Tarigami said.

An official spokesperson had said Thursday the Administrative Council (AC) approved the change of land use from agricultural to non-agricultural purposes in Jammu and Kashmir.

The AC, which met under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, approved the regulations framed by the board of revenue for conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes, he said.

These regulations were necessitated after the legislative changes in the land revenue act post reorganisation of the erstwhile state, the spokesman said.

The new guidelines have been issued to regulate the uncontrolled conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes on the one hand and keep the developmental aspirations of the UT and the people on the other, the spokesman said.

Under the new regulations, the district collector has been empowered to grant permission to the change in land use from agricultural to non-agricultural purposes in accordance with the procedure as to be notified by the board of revenue, he said.

The powers have been delegated to the district collector to grant permission for land up to 12 standard acres against a fee of five percent of the market value of the land notified under the stamps act, he added.

However, the regulations provide an exemption from seeking permission in cases of conversion of land for construction of residential houses or farm-related buildings and storages with a ceiling of 400 square metres, the spokesman said.

The decision is aimed at ensuring production of sufficient quantity of food grains, besides promoting orderly growth of industrial and services sector in the Union territory and creation of employment, he said.

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