Preserving Kahcharai Land  

Harvesting season is at its peak in Kashmir valley. In fact, Kashmir as per officials is witnessing a bumper rice crop this year. In the middle of it, there is a need to safeguard farmland. Kahcharai land (grazing land) is important. It is not vital for livestock but of late for other purposes of shared interest in a society.

The natural grazing lands and cultivated fodder crops are of prime importance and development of forage production systems is vital for livestock maintenance and sustenance. However, the grazing requirements of the livestock far exceed the availability of land. This results in over-grazing and consequent degradation of the pasture lands. When Kahcharai land is encroached, it means there is more pressure on what is available. At places non-availability of such land due to encroachments causes tremendous loss to livestock.

At places, over-grazing has not only decreased the productivity of pasture lands, but has also led to loss of soil fertility and water holding capacity. Increasing population and land use practices have also contributed to degradation of pasture lands. These lands are used to meet other requirements as well.

As regards the acquisition of Kahcharai land is concerned, there is absolutely no prohibition in law, especially the Land Acquisition Act, that such land meant for grazing purposes cannot be acquired, the high court had ruled. It may be important to note that Kahcharai land is land for grazing purposes and is the property of the Government which is utilized for the benefit of the villagers. The Jammu & Kashmir Kahcharai Act defines Kahcharai to mean ‘revenue derived or derivable from any duty, fee, tax fine or penalty imposed in relation to levy of grazing’.

The Act provides for the collection of revenue of grazing, for registration of nomads as grazers and the various offences in relation thereto but it nowhere provides that the land kept or earmarked for grazing purpose in a village is not open for acquisition for buildings such as hospital or school.

The Kahcharai land can only be acquired for a very limited purpose if no other land is available.

Kahcharai land can be acquired for construction of roads and other constructions which benefit the society at large.

Keeping the importance of livestock in the lives of many people, it is, therefore, important to ensure grazing areas.  Free grazing of land also causes untold damage to the natural regeneration of the land and as such it is important to protect such land for future generations.

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