Oct 25, 2007

Pakistan Military: Converting Agriculture Land to Housing Projects.

The recent allotment of 12,093 acres to the DHA on the Super Highway adjacent to the Karachi toll plaza is the biggest-ever housing project of the DHA on agriculture land.

The development will snatch the livelihood from hundreds of villagers - villagers with 600-year-old links to the land.

Facts are as follows:

Nov 2004: Sindh Cabinet agrees to lease out an area of 12,093 acres situated at Deh Khadeji and Abdaar, both in Gadap town, at the rate of Rs.100,000 per acre for housing purposes.

May2005: Resident of that land were told that their land boundaries will be marked.

Residents files a petition against DHA and Sindh government that the government of Sindh has already allotted that this land to them in 1992 for 30 years. Their lease expires in 2022. Petition further challenges the sale as per "Sindh disposal of Urban land ordinance 2002", no land can be disposed off without an open auction and at a price less than the market value. None of these rules were followed.

Adnan Memon, advocate, representing the local residents argues that the price of surveyed land per acre was not less than 700,000 rupees, while non-surveyed land was 150,000 rupees per acre. At present, the value of both types of land is about 800,000 and 400,000 respectively. He asks a pertinent question, "How was the price of the land fixed, and which department was involved in assessing the land's value?"

April 2007: Sindh High Court restrains the Sindh government from handing over possession of private lands to the DHA."

The land in question is, indeed, "private" in many respects. More than 10,000 people inhabit 15 different villages. And they are not squatters. These villages have been in existence for 600 years.

Livestock and agriculture are the main sourses of livelihood. 15 tube wells at a cost of Rs. 1 million and a one dam to store water costing 40 million is the part of infrastructure in the area.

Efforts should be made to give schools and healthcare to this community rather then to displace them from tehir ancestral land.
Technically, the DHA is a private project, though its management comes under the control of General Headquarters (GHQ). The controlling authority negotiates the purchase of land just like other private enterprises do for constructing housing schemes. However, in this case the controlling authority is the military. Corps commanders are often the chairmen of DHA operations. Newsline Report

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