LAHORE – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Nawaz Sharif’s residence in Raiwind on Sunday was rocked by a massive protest demonstration, never witnessed in past, against launch of the ‘LDA City’, a new mega housing scheme being initiated on instruction of Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif and executed by LDA DG Abdul Jabbar Shaheen in couple of days. People upped an ante against LDA City, spreading over 45,000 kanal land in the area of seven Mozas (towns) including Kahna, Halloki, Toor Warriach, Thay Panju, Sidher, Rakh Jhedu and Kacha at Ferozepur Road bounded on the North (Defence Road, Hadiara Drain), South (500 meter in south along with Khana Ferozepur Road to Raiwind Road), East (Ferozepur Road) and West (Railway Line).
Thousands of protestors, holding placards and waving banners, gathered in front of residence of Nawaz Sharif at Jatt Umra in Raiwind and opposed en-masse the launch of housing scheme designed on the pattern of Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Lahore.
Headed by Sami Khan, protestors turned down the prescribed terms and conditions laid down by LDA for compensation to them against their land. Taking to Pakistan Today, Sami Khan said that most of the land, acquired by LDA, had been producing crops like wheat, rice, sugarcane and fodder and had big role in fulfilling the food demands of Lahore.
“LDA City would deprive more than 0.1 million farmers of their agri land and sole livelihood,” he moaned. Sami said LDA had promised to give 30 percent developed plots in the scheme besides charging 50 percent development charges as compensation to land owners. Jamshaid Khan (another land owner) said that usually government housing schemes take 15 to 20 years to get built and LDA Avenue-1 was best example in this regard. “This means that we will have to wait 15 to 20 years to sell our given plots in the scheme. Who will give us employment and livelihood during that time,” he questioned.
Protestors alleged that PML-N MPA Malik Saiful Malook who had more than 100 acres land in the area had used his political influence to withdrew his land from the LDA City housing scheme. Another PML-N leader Rana Mubashar had done the same, they added.
LDA senior official said recently a court stopped Punjab government from acquiring 76 kanal and 19 marlas in Narowal, saying that Land Acquisition Act’s section 17 / 4 applied only in case of emergency. In normal circumstances, the Act stood invalid and government had no authority to usurp basic fundamental rights of people.
Fawad Amir, Personal Staff Officer of LDA DG Abdul Jabbar Shaheen said LDA had adopted international standard of compensation following the footstep of DHA. Dispelling impression about longer delay, he said that LDA City would be completed within 3 to 4 years. “LDA is ready to hold talks with all those who have any reservation on the scheme as the authority believes in ironing out the issue through consultations amicably,” he added.
LDA issued notification of land acquisition Act 1894 under section (4) Metropolitan Planning Wing LDA land acquisition collector (I) also obtained all relevant revenue record of towns falling into the land approved for schemes. Official survey of 1,55,000 kanal land, conducted by University of Engineering and Technology (UET), declared only 45,000 kanal to be of use for the development of the scheme. NESPK services were also hired for topographic and aerial survey.
The LDA also banned establishment of private housing schemes in the area and Town Planning Branch had been issued directions forthwith, he added.
NEGOTIATIONS FAIL: A delegation of residents from Khana met CM Shahbaz Sharif to discuss their problems with him. However, no consensus could be reached and the CM said a committee would work on resolving the problems soon.