PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday issued a stay order temporarily stopping the Charsadda district administration from acquiring an agricultural land, mostly producing lotus root, to set up a dumping ground for waste.

A bench consisting of Justice Syed Arshad Ali and Justice Dr Khursheed Iqbal issued notice to Charsadda’s deputy commissioner seeking his response to a petition filed by a landlord, Mohammad Hashim Khan, against the invoking of Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act by the administration for acquiring his land in Charsadda city and converting it into a dumping site.

The petitioner requested the court to declare illegal a notification issued by the administration under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act for being a health and environmental issue in Majoki area, Charsadda, as well as adjoining areas.

He requested the court to declare the establishment of the dumping ground in Majoki area in violation of the Constitution and the provincial, federal and international environmental protection laws and standards.

High court seeks Charsadda admin’s reply to petition

The petitioner also highlighted the archaeological significance of lotus root for Charsadda district and sought the court’s orders for the government to hold regular research on its cultivation as well as help growers in that respect.

His lawyer, Ali Gohar Durrani, said lotus flower was a symbol of enlightenment and rebirth in Gandhara civilisation, while Charsadda was known as Pushkulavati (City of Lotus) in ancient times.

He said lotus root locally called nadru or barsanday was eaten as vegetable but The lawyer said the cultivation of lotus root dwindled and was confined to only three places, including Pajjagi area in Peshawar and Majoki and Turangzai areas in Charsadda.

He said a petition was recently filed with the high court, wherein the graveyard in Charsadda having been used as a dumping ground came into surface.

The counsel added that the court had issued orders in that case for the establishment of a proper dumping site.

He said the court had ordered the identification of site for the dumping site, while a committee was also constituted for the purpose.

Mr Durrani said a meeting was held on the matter and directions were issued to invoke Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act.

He said a survey was conducted and of all the places, the petitioner’s property, which was known for the cultivation of lotus root, had been chosen by the administration as the dumping site.

The lawyer argued that the local administration didn’t realise that it was an agricultural area, which was good for growing crops and if it was made a dumping site, it should have serious issues for environment, groundwater and the people’s health.

He contended that the notification was issued in haste ‘in the garb of the orders of the high court’.

Mr Durrani said a report of the sub-engineer of the tehsil municipal officer’s office declared that the site was located in the vicinity of a residential area and was waterlogged, so it was good for growing lotus root.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2022

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