WHERE the acquisition of potentially lucrative tracts of land is concerned, there is never any shortage of takers in this country.
Recent decades have seen countless acres of land in cities and even in the rural areas taken over to satisfy the never-flagging demand to either convert its use or parcel it out for sale. Historical buildings have been torn down to make way for malls and plazas.
And while it is unarguable that development must take place and the needs of a burgeoning citizenry met, the problem is that in too many instances, the land acquisition decision is based on dubious logic and designed to serve the desires of a select few.
This pattern seems under way yet again in the finalisation of the Balochistan government’s plan, as reported recently, to take over 64 acres of land owned by Radio Pakistan in Quetta which houses its supplementary station and some machinery and medium-wave and short-wave transmission towers.
When the land on Sariab Road was allotted to Radio Pakistan in 1964, it was fairly remote but, by now, the expanding city has caught up with it. It is being said that the location will be used to construct a sports complex and a park, an aim that is laudable if it is ever achieved. Yet is the shutting down of this station the best way forward? There are a few points to consider.
First, this station is being used to broadcast a number of programmes in local languages, and their loss would be inflicting a needless blow on Radio Pakistan’s image, to say nothing of leaving audiences bereft.
In its heyday, Radio Pakistan built its reputation and popularity on not just its reach but also its mandate to broadcast, as a public-sector entity, material that would not be commercially successful.
Second, taking down the transmission towers would hamper the Quetta station’s broadcast range. Third, while building a sports complex has the contours of political mileage, the fact remains that the government-constructed Shahwani Sports Stadium is located close to this Radio Pakistan installation.
It has the capacity to be further developed, in addition to there being available other large tracts of government-owned land on roads linking to Sariab Road, which can be used for the same purpose.
In fact, creative investments need to be made in this station and Radio Pakistan itself, so that the full potential can be mined of what is now a giant in decline.
Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2015