THIS has reference to the news report ‘Farm owners to be asked to produce fruits, vegetables with capital in mind’ (Nov 10). As a farm-owner, I would like to give my two cents on this newfound self-righteous campaign of the Capital Development Authority (CDA).

It is indeed heartening to see that CDA is looking after the interests of Islamabad residents and is intent on providing them with fresh fruits and vegetables from the farming scheme it designed over 30 years ago.

But, as the remarkable CDA planning goes, we, as farm-owners, receive the short end of the straw. Although the CDA allocated this land for agricultural purposes, they conveniently forgot to provide agriculture water connections to the farm-owners along with streetlights and trash collection service.

Many central roads, such as Lehtrar Road and Tramiri Chowk, have large heaps of rubbish, along with the central median being filled waist-deep with food and garbage waste.

Also, all farm-owners are constantly harassed by the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) over having to provide our transformers for electric supply, which then automatically ‘fail’ every 13 months and we have to shell out hundreds of thousands of rupees to have our electricity restored.

Whereas all farm-owners pay their land revenue taxes as well as CDA development tax as residences are constructed on them, we get no street-lighting, trash-collection, road repairs and, the worst of all, a CDA-allocated water connection.

As common sense would have it, we cannot carry out agriculture without water. Crime in our locality is the highest in Islamabad as the police are spread thin owing to budgetary resources.

Until a former president’s farmhouse was glorified by the national media, this area used to be a hub of illegal activity, with many people lacking basic amenities, and farm-owners having to contend with all the consequences of life in such an area.

It is indeed delightful to watch CDA officials passing rules and imposing fines sitting in their offices removed from the reality. As farm-owners, we must highlight the simple fact that just because we live in a farming area does not automatically make our lives rosy or even remotely easy. The CDA would do well not to make things even more ‘interesting’ for us.

Saadiya Ghazal Usmani

Islamabad

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2020

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