Housing scheme to be constructed in Hangu district

Falak Niaz

Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a city known as the city of flowers has no enactment for urbanization that stops the public from urbanizing agricultural land.

More than seventy percent people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa depend on agriculture. But in the recent several years the number of illegal housing schemes are increasing day by day which is a high threat to food security in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has also passed an ordinance to implement a ban on the utilization of agricultural land for the construction of houses.

The rapid urbanization of agricultural land turned the fertile land into unplanned towns and societies across the province.

The unplanned urbanization in the province is alarming as very vast agricultural land, not only in Peshawar but across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa like Mardan, Abbottabad, and Dera Ismail Khan areas as well has turned into housing societies.

Urbanization on agricultural land is a very serious issue but the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government is unable to stop construction on private agricultural land as there is no law to prevent it.

As per the media reports, there are about 30 different towns in parts of the Peshawar district most of which are illegal. The urban population of Peshawar is 1.970 million and it is estimated that the urban population of Peshawar will likely increase up to 2.80 million by 2030.

Nazeer Ahmed, a spokesman of the Peshawar Development Authority, said that dozens of cases have been registered against the illegal housing townships in the provincial capital Peshawar.

About the issuance of NOC for housing projects, he said the authority is issuing such NOCs after complete scrutiny. The official informed the cases which are under trial in different courts have no hope for justice due to a lot of legal complexities and a lack of proper legislation. There are also some flaws in the legislation which impede implementation.

He suggests the government take serious action against private schemes which are declared illegal and unplanned across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The agriculture department has also arranged different seminars and workshops to create awareness among the public about the protection of agricultural lands.

Secretary of agriculture Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Dr. Israr Ullah Khan said, the public should change its mind about capturing agricultural land’s utilization for the construction of houses, markets, and other commercial installations.

He said that we have to promote the tendency of vertical construction to ensure the protection of fertile lands for agricultural production.

The unplanned spread of major cities across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has caused complex civic problems and posed threat to the environment and agricultural land and this situation will pose a serious threat to food security in the near future.

Deputy Director of the Agriculture department, Shah Fahad Yousafzai said, the department is making efforts to adopt the latest technologies in the agricultural sector to boost production and stressed the need for dire steps by cultivating modern seeds to overcome the issue of degradation of lands.

Shah Fahad said the provincial government is working on the construction of small dams in eleven districts including Bannu, Karak, Kohat, Hangu, Charsadda, Swabi, Haripur, Peshawar Nowshera, Lower Dir, and Swat districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to enhance the agriculture lands besides bringing barren lands under cultivation.

These small dams, on completion, will bring more than seventy-one thousand acres of barren land under cultivation. The KP government is also smoothing about thirty-four thousand acres of land in various areas of the province.

Growing population and climate challenges are badly affecting the urban areas of Peshawar and the nature conservancy. It is a dire need for the government, including all segments of society, to set together and devise a comprehensive strategy to combat the issue of agricultural land degradation in the district.

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