Acquisition of agricultural land in Charsadda for suspended landfill site – Pakistan

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday issued a stay order temporarily preventing the Charsadda District Administration from acquiring agricultural land, mainly producing lotus root, to set up a waste dump there.

A bench consisting of Judge Syed Arshad Ali and Judge Dr Khursheed Iqbal issued a notice to the Deputy Commissioner of Charsadda requesting his response to a motion filed by a landlord, Mohammad Hashim Khan, against the invocation of Article 4 of the land acquisition law by the administration to acquire its land in the city of Charsadda and convert it into a landfill.

The petitioner requested the court to declare unlawful a notification issued by the administration under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act as a health and environmental problem in the area of ​​Majoki, Charsadda, as well as in adjacent areas.

He asked the court to declare the establishment of the landfill in the Majoki area in violation of the Constitution and provincial, federal and international environmental protection laws and standards.

High Court requests Charsadda administrator’s response to petition

The petitioner also pointed out the archaeological significance of the lotus root to the Charsadda district and asked the court to order the government to conduct regular research on its cultivation and assist the growers in this regard.

His lawyer, Ali Gohar Durrani, said that the lotus flower was a symbol of enlightenment and rebirth in the Gandhara civilization, while Charsadda was known as Pushkulavati (Lotus City) in ancient times.

He said the lotus root locally called nadru or barsanday was eaten as a vegetable, but the lawyer said the cultivation of lotus root had declined and was confined to only three places, including Pajjagi area in Peshawar and Majoki and Turangzai regions in Charsadda.

He said a petition had recently been filed in the High Court in which the Charsadda cemetery having been used as a dumping ground came to the surface.

The lawyer added that the court had made orders in this case for the establishment of a suitable landfill site.

He said the court ordered the identification of the site for the dump site, while a committee was also constituted for this purpose.

Mr Durrani said a meeting had been held on the matter and instructions had been issued to invoke Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act.

He said that an investigation was carried out and that of all the places, the petitioner’s property, known for the cultivation of lotus root, was chosen by the administration as the dumping site.

The lawyer argued that the local government failed to realize that it was an agricultural area suitable for cultivation and that if it became a landfill, it would have serious environmental problems, groundwater and people’s health.

He argued the notification was hastily issued “under the guise of high court orders”.

Mr Durrani said a report from the deputy engineer of the municipal tehsil officer’s office said the site was near a residential area and was waterlogged, so it was good for the lotus root cultivation.

Posted in Dawn, July 28, 2022

Amalia H. Mercado