PUDUCHERRY: After converting 77 hectares of agricultural land primarily for residential purpose two months ago, more agricultural land is set to give way to residences. This continues to happen even as the Union Territory is becoming more and more dependent on neighbouring states for food.
A total land area of 86 hectares and 31 ares, including 77 acres of agricultural land in various revenue villages in the region under the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), 1977, has been converted for residential purposes, according to a notification from the Pondicherry Planning Authority (PPA) on October 21, 2014. This includes a water body in Thengaithittu revenue village measuring 18 ares and 98 centiares and two groves, one in Murungapakkam revenue village measuring 26 ares and another in Thengaithittu Revenue village measuring 48 ares and 50 centiares which have also been converted. Most of the owners of the agricultural land have opted for the conversion for better profits. The trend of conversion of farmland to agricultural land continues as more and more people opt for real estate business with housing activity on the rise.
A week back, a committee was constituted by the government for changing land use pattern from agricultural to non-agricultural purpose for land areas situated outside the CDP area in Puducherry and Karaikal regions of the Union Territory. At present, CDP comprises only 41.91 sq km out of an area of 293.77 sq km in Puducherry region. CDP for the entire Puducherry region is under preparation.
Since there is no statutory provision in the Town and Country Planning Act with regard to areas outside the purview of the CDP, the committee was set up to look into the land use pattern and give its recommendations. Hence, all applications for land conversions outside the CDP now would be taken up by the Town and Country Planning Board based on the recommendations of the committee and the site clearance issued by the Town and Country Planning Department. The government has taken this decision to streamline the procedure for consideration of applications seeking land use conversion, as per the notification issued by the government.More than 100 applications for agricultural land conversions have come with half of them directed towards industrial purposes, sources said.
There has been continuous land conversions with six hectares and one ares of agricultural land, including a grove, which have been converted for construction of houses in 2013, while in 2012 nine ares of agricultural land was converted for residential use.
Now, more conversions are in the pipeline and they come at a time when the contribution of agricultural and allied activities contribution to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) has shrunk to 3.4 per cent in 2013-2014, according to government data. It is expected to shrink further.
In fact, it is in sharp deviation from the 12th Plan Vision document of the government which envisages to improve the base of agriculture and allied activities and their contribution to State GDP to the level of at least 10 per cent by the end of 12th Five Year Plan. The large-scale migration of people from other states with an increase by 4.6 per cent as indicated in the census data and the promotion of plots and flats as well as educational institutions, are pushing the conversion of land. Agriculturist are also preferring to sell their land as it has become more lucrative than agriculture.
With agricultural land shrinking fast, Puducherry is headed towards a total dependency on other states for food. Already, Puducherry has become dependent on other states for milk.