MUZAFFARGARH: Locals on Sunday rejected a proposal floated by provincial minister Syed Haroon Sultan Bukhari offering them the “highest land rates” if they were ready to surrendered their lands for construction of the coal-run power plant in the district.

At a meeting with hundreds of residents of Mouza Budh, Wairer Sipra and Mahmood Kot held at the Government Higher Secondary School, Budh, the minister offered Rs5 million per acre for the land to be acquired for the power plant.

He also promised jobs and other benefits for the locals on Punjab government’s behalf if they were ready to sell their land for the plant’s construction.

Voice environmental concern

However, the locals unanimously rejected the minister’s offer and asked him to tell the government to shift the power project to some other place.

Mr Bukhari urged the people should not resist survey team because they would be taking samples to measure pollution in the area.

Budh Union Council chairman Rana Akhtar Hussain Noon said the plant project should be shifted to Rakh Khan Pur where both a railway track and canal water were available and 6,000 acres of land was lying vacant.

Former DBA president Iqbal Pittafi asked why government was insisting on installing the plant here when it could be shifted to somewhere else.

Khair Mohammed Budh said as many as four plants were already working in the area but the government was adamant to build another.

Rana Mahbob Akhtar said, “We wanted no more pollution in the area as there were already dozens suffering from skin diseases and even cancer”.

Later, the minister, on the request of the locals, asked District Coordination Officer Hafiz Shoukat Ali to withdraw the case registered against some 200 people for attacking a survey team.

Published in Dawn, March 7th, 2016