Kashmir saffron facing threat from construction activity

From 7000 hectares in Pampore tehsil alone in 1990, the land under saffron cultivation has reduced to 3600 hectares in entire Kashmir. The central government has recently announced a Rs 376 crore National Saffron Mission to increase the yield and bring more areas under cultivation.

Despite efforts by the agriculture department to introduce saffron cultivation in areas with topography similar to Pampore, which accounts for nearly 90 per cent of the saffron produced in the state, the crop is virtually facing threat of extinction.

One of the major reasons for shrinking of acreage under saffron cultivation is the "mindless and unplanned" construction of residential houses in the midst of the fields, official claim.
Ironically, one such sprawling residential colony which has come up at Pampore has been named as 'Saffron colony'. Although the state legislature has enacted a law to prevent such constructions, officials in the agriculture department claim it is not being implemented on the ground.

"The legislation is there but enactment of these laws is not in the hands of officers in the Agriculture department," Nigeen Ahmad Lone, the Chief Agriculture Officer of north Kashmir's Pulwama district, said.

Lone said the department officials can only identify the violations of the Act but have no powers to enforce to take action."We can at the most identify and inform. Beyond that the district administration and the police have to act," he said.The decline in land under saffron cultivation has also been attributed to lack of irrigation facilities in Pampore tehsil.

Comments (+)