Initially 1600 kanals of land across fencing will be cultivated
KATHUA, Sept 15: What can be termed good news for farming community living along the International Border (IB) in Jammu region of Union Territory, the civil administration with the help of Border Security Forces has started activity of cultivating the land across the fencing on Zero Line on IB after a gap of 18 years in Kathua district today.
The activity was started in the villages from Manyari in border belt of Hiranagar Sector of the district and out of 6000 kanals of land across fencing in the district 1200 kanals will be taken up for the cultivation in the first instance, official sources told Excelsior.
Sources said the process was started on the directives of Lt Governor, Manoj Sinha who is particular in cultivation of thousands kanals of fertile land across the fencing on IB which has even now turned barren after remaining uncultivated for nearly two decades putting the farmers of the border belt to a heavy loss.
Sources said the LG during his recent visit to the border districts has issued directives to the district administration of concerned districts to take steps for cultivating the land with the help of BSF by ensuring all facilities including security to farmers. However the district administration Kathua took the lead in this regard and it organized meetings with public representatives of the border belt including BDC chairpersons, Sarpanchs and Panchs of the area, officers of BSF, Revenue and Agriculture Department, sources added.
The BSF assured full security and all support to farming community intending to cultivate their land across the fencing on IB, sources said.
This morning a team of district administration led by District Development Commissioner Kathua, O P Bhagat visited the border area along with other officers of Revenue, Agriculture Department and BSF and in his presence four tractors were pressed in service to plough the land.
It may be recalled that the cultivation of land on the IB was stopped by the people in 2002 due to heavy shelling from across the border and since then this fertile land known as rice bowl of Jammu had turned barren giving rise to wild bushes and shrubs incurring a heavy loss to farmers of border belt.
In Kathua district, 22 villages in Hiranagar sector were affected from Paharpur to Londi where the farmers could not cultivate their land in last 18 years while scores of villages in other two districts of Samba and Jammu upto border belt of Kanachak in Jammu district where the farmers were unable to cultivate their land during this period. But now with the proactive stand of the Government the farmers especially in Hiranagar belt feel encouraged and have gladly come forward for farming activities across the fencing on Zero Line.
Sources said growing of wild bushes and grass due to non cultivation of land had given advantage to the Pakistan Rangers in pushing the infiltrators this side and with the cultivation of this land their activities will also come under control to a great extent. This will help BSF in curbing the infiltration activities also, sources added.
The farmers in this belt are all set to sow the seeds of Rabi crop from village Manyari, sources said.
Besides, Deputy Commissioner, Kathua, OP Bhagat, the BSF Commandant, Satyendra Giri supervised the ploughing of land on Zero Line of IB in Hiranagar sector.
Later Bhagat told Excelsior that on the directions of Lt. Governor, Manoj Sinha , the district administration took the initiative with the support of BSF for cultivation of Rabi crops across the fencing. He said the neighbouring country farmers are cultivating up to Zero Line. But farmers on this side had stopped cultivation due to cross border firing by Pakistan Rangers in 2002. In the first phase 1200 kanals of agriculture land will be cultivated and process will continue to cultivating all the 6000 kanals of land in Kathua border belt.
The BSF Commandant Satyendra Giri said that BSF is guarding the border and it will provide all assistance and support to farmers in cultivating their fields including their security. “If Pakistan farmers are cultivating their fields on Zero Line then why our farmers can’t do so”? he asked.
The border farmers Karan Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Manohar Lal and Nanak Chand said that they are very happy and appreciated the steps of Government and BSF as they are going to cultivate their fields after 18 years. They said that during the last 18 years they faced huge loss and were not able to produce crops as per their requirement. Even the Government also did not give them required compensation for the losses suffered by them. They were eagerly waiting for cultivation of their fields.
They said even a deputation had also met with LG Manoj Sinha on this issue. They also asked the administration to bear all expenditure from ploughing of fields to sowing of seeds and fertilizers etc. As they cannot bear any expenditure in such circumstances when there is uncertainty on the border and Pakistan Rangers continue firing.
The process will also be started in other districts. District Development Commissioner, Samba, Rohit Khajuria said that BSF is ready to provide all support and security to farmers and administration is also trying its level best to motivate people to cultivate their land across the fencing. He said efforts are afoot in this regard from Government side so that the cultivation can again be started on the land which has been abandoned by farmers due to shelling from across about two decades back.
Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Sushma Chauhan said that meetings are being held by district administration with BSF from time to time to evolve a mechanism for cultivating the land across the fencing in border belt. She said that this is very fertile and precious land and administration is finding out the ways and means so that this land can be reused by farmers for agriculture purpose.