LAHORE: The Punjab government has allowed conversion of land use, from agricultural purposes to industrial, for a mega project worth Rs25 billion to be launched by a Chinese company.

The permission for conversion of land use was granted to the company in a recent meeting of the Lahore Development Authority’s (LDA) governing body as per rule 13 of the LDA Land Use Rules-2020, after the Lahore district administration’s design committee and the environment protect department issued no objection certificates (NOCs) in this regard, Dawn has learnt.

“The company, through its Chief Executive Officer Mr Chen Yen, on May 22, this year had applied to the government for permission for conversion of the use of 450 kanal agricultural land for industrial purposes for launching a mega industrial project at Mauza Pandoki (Bedian Distributary). In response to the request, the government assigned the task to the respective departments to process the case under the relevant rules and regulations,” an official source told Dawn on Sunday.

He said the LDA granted approval to the company after receiving around Rs31 million commercialisation fee.

According to a document available with Dawn, under the 2020 land use rules, any industrial project worth Rs5 billion to Rs6bn (minimum) on a land measuring not less than 160 kanal is allowed to be launched on agricultural land “in a bid to attract local and foreign investment and provide jobs to the unemployed people”. However, the company offered the government to invest Rs25bn by establishing industry on the land measuring around 450 kanal.

The case was presented before the design committee in July, this year and it sought verification from Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT) regarding investment in the proposed project. The committee also sought a report from the LDA regarding non-hazardous nature of the industry as per land use rules and clarification of the rule 13 and placement of the case before the LDA governing body for further action.

Accordingly, the PBIT verified the proposed investment through a letter and the company submitted an undertaking, pledging there would be no hazardous activity on the proposed land.

Moreover, the LDA clarified that since the 2004 master plan of Lahore did not clarify in detail the provision for such land use, and preparation of a new master plan was underway, such cases could be processed under the 2020 land used rules.

The case was placed before the LDA governing body in August that constituted a committee comprising the secretaries of housing and environment departments, LDA director general and others concerned, to decide the matter.

The committee approved the proposal in principal, subject issuance of the NOC by the EPD, that later issued the same.

“The authority confirms the issuance of NOC for the conversion of land use from agricultural to industrial project on the specified land falling in Mauza Pandoki, Model Town Tehsil, Lahore,” read minutes of a recent meeting of the LDA’s governing body, presided over by Punjab chief minister.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2021

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