PESHAWAR: Unplanned and illegal housing schemes on agricultural lands in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), including Peshawar, pose a serious threat to agricultural land.
A report of the KP government said that there are fears that agriculture productions will further decline in next few years because of construction of housing societies on fertile land across the province. The report informed that 156 housing societies have been set up in Peshawar alone of which 70% are ‘illegal’.
The KP government report said that 118 ‘illegal’ housing schemes have been issued notices and relevant police stations have been directed to register cases against the owner of such schemes. Yesterday, [17 November], the Peshawar High Court issued notices to KP government, on the construction of illegal housing schemes on fertile lands and adjourned further hearing till December 2.
A two-member bench comprising Justice Rohul Amin and Justice Atiq Shah heard the petition filed against housing schemes on agricultural lands in Charsadda filed by Asif Ali Shah through his lawyers, Faqirullah Awan, Ziyat Khan, Mohammad Arif Jan, Akbar Ali, Mohammad Moaz Madani and Amanullah Marwat advocate. The KP government, agriculture department, local government, environment department, Deputy Commissioner Charsadda, and Senior Member Board of Revenue (SMBR) were made parties in the writ petition.
The lawyers argued that in Charsadda, agriculture is the major source of living along with fish and livestock farming. Charsadda is currently supplying 85 metric tons of fish to market of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The district also contributes 25% wheat and 14% tobacco to the province, lawyers for the petitioner said. Besides, said that lawyer, Charsadda is the second largest in terms of sugarcane cultivation in the province.
Lawyers for the petitioner further told the court that annually, the district has huge contributed to livestock sector farming of the province. “But unfortunately for the last few years, various housing Schemes and colonies have been setup on agriculture land which poses a serious threat to the district’s agricultural sector, fish and livestock farms,” the lawyer informed the court.
According to the law and the declaration of the finance department, agricultural land cannot be used for any other activity, including residential schemes. According to the law, the government itself cannot acquire agricultural land for any other purpose. But “illegal” housing schemes have consumed thousands of acres of fertile land and the finance department and district administration have adopted a complete silence.
The lawyer argued that till the final judgement on the writ petition, the parties should be directed to halt construction activities on agricultural land and enact legislation to protect the fertile land in order ensure food security. The petitioner sought orders to the government to not issue NOC for such housing schemes.
After hearing the arguments, the court issued notices to the provincial government and banned the construction and transfer of illegal housing schemes on agricultural lands in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.