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TRCF demands law to preserve grazing land in J-K

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Jammu, Jul 15: An organisation of the Gujjar and Bakerwal tribes today voiced concern over fast shrinking of grazing land in Jammu and Kashmir and demanded a law to preserve it in the state.

The Tribal Research and Cultural Foundation (TRCF) also demanded a probe into the transfer of land to “influential people” under the Roshi Act in the state.

The Roshni Act was enacted in 2001 to generate Rs 25,000 crore by vesting the ownership rights over state land, also called ‘nazool’ land, to its occupants to use the money in power sector.

However, according to official figures, the scheme earned the government only a meager Rs 78.74 crore – Rs 54 crore in Kashmir and Rs 24 crore in Jammu.

The TRCF said conversion of grazing areas and pastoral lands are adversely affecting tribal livelihood and is harmful for migratory culture and nomadic way of life of Gujjars  and Bakerwals.

“Gujjars and Bakerwals, the main animal-raring communities, demand that the grazing areas and pastoral lands must not be converted for any purposes and the government should come up with a law to restrict conversion of grazing land, including its change of title or ownership,” the foundation said in a statement here.

It said the livelihood of lakhs of nomads solely depends on the grazing land since centuries.

“All such grazing areas, pastoral land and other community resources should not be converted or vested to an agency or agencies for any type of usage. Such changes can badly affect centuries-old migratory culture and traditions of Gujjars , Bakerwals, Gaddis, Sippis and Chanpas of Ladakh,” it said.

The foundation said the grazing land must be used for animal-rearing only and should be strictly kept for the tribal  community’s use.

“Grazing lands are shrinking fast due to its rapid conversions for different purposes and a large number of tribal families, who are entirely dependent on these lands, are facing helplessness,” the TRCF said.

After the implementation of the Roshni Act in the last decade – whereby government-vested ownership of land to the occupants, it said the grazing or free government lands have been occupied by “influential people”, leaving the tribe, landless people aside, which needs a probe.

The foundation urged the State government to formulate a plan for eviction of illegal and unauthorised occupants of grazing land meant for community use.

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