Cultivable land continues to shrink

Cultivable land in India continues to shrink. It may not pose an immediate problem for the nation’s food security but its long-term effect could be disastrous with the country needing more and more foodgrains to support its growing population.

Latest data from the agriculture ministry shows that as many as 20 states reported decrease in cultivable land to the extent of 790,000 hectares in four years from 2007-08 to 2010-11.

The decrease is mainly attributed to diversion of cultivable land for non-agricultural purposes, including construction, industries and other development activities.

Since such diversion is inevitable, the government had in its National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy (NRRP), 2007 recommended several measures to keep a tab on ever-decreasing cultivable land in the country.

But the data, shared by the agriculture ministry in response to a question in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, shows that only five states have taken some steps to increase the areas under cultivation and three others ( Assam, Goa and Sikkim) have adhered to the policy of not tinkering with land which can be used for farming.

Gujarat is the only big state which increased the area of cultivable land during four years from 2007-08 to 2010-11. Manipur, Mizoram, Jammu & Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh are the other states which reported increase during the period.

Haryana showed the sharpest decline in area under cultivation. The small state, which has seen diversion of huge tracts of cultivable land due to boom in real estate, reported decrease of 65,000 hectares of agricultural land between 2007-08 and 2010-11.

Since land falls under the purview of states as per the seventh Schedule of the Constitution, it is for states to bring in suitable policy to prevent diversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes. The Centre had under its 2007 policy advised states to allow development projects to come up on wastelands.

Under NRRP, states were advised that acquisition of agricultural land for non-agricultural use should be kept to the minimum, multi-cropped land should be avoided to the extent possible for such purposes and acquisition of irrigated land, if unavoidable, may be kept to the minimum.

But it seems most states have not followed the norms, leading to overall decrease of nearly 406,000 hectares of cultivable land in the country during the four-year period.

Though the shrinkage did not have adverse impact on foodgrain production as the country reported increase from 230.8 million tonnes in 2007-08 to 255.4 million tonnes in 2012-13, the ever declining trend of cultivable land may pose a serious challenge in the long run.

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Fisheries can emerge as ‘sunrise sector’ : Arunachal Pradesh

ITANAGAR, Aug 9: In a State where hydro power and tourism are seen as the best sources of a sustainable economy, Chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin today emphasized on fisheries as another viable sector with huge potential. He said with a significant wide range of fishes ranging from Alpine varieties to tropical ones in the lower altitudes, fishery can emerge as a ‘sunrise sector’ in the State’s economy. He was inaugurating the two-day State Review Meeting on Fisheries Developmental Programmes at Banquet Hall here today.

With a deficit of 10,000 tonnes in fish production against a demand of 13,000 tonnes, Gamlin emphasized for an urgent need in promoting fisheries as an alternate source of livelihood.

Maintaining that in order to create employment opportunities, fisheries are an excellent way of bringing opportunities to the doorsteps of the people, he also advocated for bringing about a revolution in the fishery sector where the consumption requirements of fish would be produced within the State and not procured from farms in far-off States.

The minister however highlighted certain bottlenecks in sustainable use of natural resources like rampant exploitation of river-borne resources like boulders, sands, shingles, etc, which badly affect fish breeding habitats. He urged the government to sort out means to provide funds for rehabilitation of breeding habitats.

Dabi further urged the government to include fishery departments in the management plan committee of Environment Assessment Impact Management Plan for Hydro Power Projects coming up in the State. He also requested for dereservation of the forest areas where such resources are available.

Retrieved on 1oth August, 2011 from