Kashmir farmers can own government land
28 December 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government Thursday took a historic decision to grant property rights to farmers tilling government land after paying 10 percent of the market price.State Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced this at a press conference here, after the cabinet decided that the farmers could become owners of the government land in their possession. 'The farmers can own up to 100 kanals (i.e. 12 and a half acre) of land,' Azad said.The cabinet made an amendment to the 'Roshni' ordinance that empowers the state to retrieve the government land under illegal possession. Under this ordinance, the farmers were entitled only to 10 kanals (i.e. 1.4 acres) of land.There is more than 250,000 acres of land under illegal occupation - with a total market price estimated at Rs.250 billion.'We have brought these changes because some vested interests had instigated farmers against the government scheme. This was mainly done by the land grabbers and politically motivated elements,' the chief minister said.He said the move was as historic as the 'land to the tiller' measure taken by the Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah government in 1950. As per that law, all the tillers of the land were given possession of the land they were tilling. The landlords who owned huge plots of land were asked to retain only 180 kanals (22.5 acres) of land.Azad said: 'It will help the poor in cities and villages to own land. In residential and commercial areas, too, the poor are entitled to become owners of the land by paying a marginal sum.'