Call to ban the use of agricultural land for housing and industry – Pakistan

LAHORE: The Punjab government has been urged to strictly prohibit the establishment of residential projects and industries on agricultural land.

Tehrik-i-Istaqlal chairman Rehmat Khan Wardag says between 20 and 30 percent of Punjab’s fertile farmland has been converted into residential settlements and industrial areas over the past two decades, undermining efforts to make of the province the “Pakistan food basket” and ensure the country’s food security.

Speaking at a press conference here on Friday, he said that in Punjab’s capital, Lahore alone, around 70% of agricultural land has been taken over by housing corporations and industrial units and the rest is safe from such activities only because it is located near the Indian border.

Along with Aftab Wardag, Khan Afsar and Qasim Ali Shah, he said the situation was not different especially in Gujrat, Gujranwala, Faisalabad and Kasur districts as more and more fertile land is converted in residential areas without any planning.

He demanded a strict ban on the conversion of agricultural land into settlements or industrial areas and the introduction of vertical housing in cities, while moving industrial units to non-cultivable areas like the Thal Desert.

He urged Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to immediately convene a farmers’ conference to solicit their contribution to agricultural development and the development and implementation of agricultural policy as per their suggestions.

Mr. Wardag also called for vigorous action against manufacturers and sellers of fake fertilizers and pesticides and the provision of quality seeds to farmers to improve production per acre.

This, he said, would not only lead to improved incomes for the farming community, but would also help reduce rural poverty, in addition to providing agricultural products to urban consumers at affordable rates.

He advised the Shehbaz government against victimizing political rivals and asked him to allow the PTI to hold political meetings. He also urged the Prime Minister to extend the hand of reconciliation to Dr. Tahirul Qadri and resolve the issue of the Model Town tragedy in consultation with him to promote political harmony in the country.

Posted in Dawn, May 7, 2022

Amalia H. Mercado