Rehan Qayoom Mir
Srinagar, Oct 6: Acting on the complaints that a long road stretch has been carved through saffron fields in Zafran Colony area of Srinagar outskirts, the authorities swung into action and closed the road while investigations have been launched to nab who laid the road.
Saffron, also known as “the red gold” of Kashmir, has been mentioned in Kashmiri records since the 5th century B.C. and still plays a vital role in the agricultural economy, integrated into an annual crop system. It is also a part of the cultural heritage of the region, closely associated with famous Kashmiri cuisine, making it crucial to safeguard this crop.
Tehsildar Pantha Chowk, Rakib Ahmed said that an illegal road construction was underway in the Zafron Colony, Srinagar. “Acting on the complaints, we closed the illegal road passing through the saffron field while removing the fillings from the site. Road was also dug at a few places to ensure no traffic plies through it,” he said. “We have started a legal process and the investigation to find out how the road was carved out of the saffron land is underway. “If needed, formal FIR will be lodged as well,” he said investigation in this regard is underway, and a formal FIR will be filed after completing all legal procedures.
Tehsidar Pantha Chowk said: “We are in the process of verifying the facts and once all legal formalities are completed, those responsible will face the consequences of the law. So far, we closed the road because it was illegally passing through saffron cultivation without permission.”
Asked whether a big broker mafia was behind the act, he said: “As of now, we are verifying the facts, and the culprits are not known yet. The investigation is ongoing, and facts are being verified, and once the investigation concludes, all culprits will be identified,” he said.
He said that they are continuously monitoring the situation, and the agricultural department is also involved in the investigation since saffron land falls under its jurisdiction.
It’s worth mentioning that under section 133-A of the J&K Land Revenue Act, Svt, 1996; “No land that grows or has been growing shali crop, vegetables, or saffron lullis shall be used for any purpose other than agricultural purposes without written permission from the Revenue Minister.”
Also, the Saffron Act of 2007, introduced by the Government, states that no land within the notified area shall be used for any purpose other than growing saffron lullis. It is provided that an area not exceeding two Kanals of land may be used for residential construction with the previous permission of the 1 and the Deputy Commissioner of the concerned District, in consultation with the Director of Agriculture.
It further adds that “any person who uses such land in contravention of the provisions of section 3 or section 4 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a period of ten years and a fine of ten thousand rupees.