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Housing Societies Eating Up the Agricultural Land
The agriculture sector, which accounts for about 20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 60% of its exports, directly or indirectly employs about 68 % of the population in rural areas.
Because of this, it is a difficult task for the government to not only utilize all of the current agricultural land’s potential but also increase its area by bringing more land under cultivation.
But in recent years, it has been seen that, rather than creating more land for farming, enormous housing societies building on productive agricultural lands is actually reducing the amount of land that is currently accessible.
Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Notice
In response to a citizen’s complaint on violations of the master plan and granting of NOCs to private housing societies without fulfilling the prerequisites, notices were given to the director of the Punjab Housing and Town Planning Department (PHATPD) and the director of the Rawalpindi subregion by Justice, Mirza Waqas Rauf of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench.
Muhammad Usman, an Adiala Road resident, filed a petition through his attorney, Muhammad Razzaq. He named it to the Chief Secretary of Punjab, the Secretaries of Housing, Urban Development, and Public Health Engineering, the Secretary of Local Government and Community Development, the DG and Director Sub-Region Rawalpindi of the Punjab Housing and Town Planning Agency, the DCs of Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Chakwal, Attock, and Murree, the Chief Officiant of Punjab.
He argued before the court that wheat, rice, sugarcane, and other agricultural products have been an essential to Pakistan’s economy shortly after its creation in 1947. But now, he claimed, the nation’s agriculture is being destroyed by careful planning, adding that the rise of private housing societies had also devastated the farmland. He asserted that the land developers and proprietors of private housing societies, who are swiftly swallowing agricultural fields, have forced submission on all government-run entities.
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The Punjab Secretary of Local Government and Community Development and the DG PHATPA were ordered by the court to provide full reports and paragraph-by-paragraph comments by February 22nd, 2023.
Private house developments had also harmed the crops. He asserted that the land developers and owners of the private housing societies, who are swiftly swallowing agricultural fields, had forced all government-run organizations to submit.
The district administrations are still required to generate reports on the usage of lands for the agricultural, commercial, and industrial sectors even though the Punjab government passed the Punjab Land Usage (Classification, Re-Classification and Development) Rules 2009 that same year.
In Pakistan, there are effective laws governing building construction, however they are not always followed. In the absence of laws, a government policy should be created as soon as possible to stop construction and environmental damage to agricultural areas.
The government must come up with a plan that allows for the development of societies to meet the need for housing without sacrificing productive agricultural land.
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