LAHORE: A number of landowners and farmers on Tuesday held a protest against the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project over “forced possession” of their farmlands allegedly by the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) – the state-owned entity responsible for the execution of the mega project.
The protesters holding placards gathered outside the Ruda office in Lahore and termed the land acquisition process “unlawful” and against the decision of the Supreme Court—a claim denied by the Ruda.
Protesters said that the apex court had ordered the government not to forcefully acquire land from the farmers and execute the project on the land already acquired by the authority for the project.
“But contrary to this, the Sheikhupura revenue administration along with the authorities concerned is forcibly taking possession of the land owned by the farmers through false intiqal (transfer of ownership),” Kissan Action Committee Convener Mian Mustafa Rasheed claimed while talking to reporters.
Claim ‘unlawful’ acquisition process against SC decision; Ruda official says govt has made payment to 70pc of landowners
Flanked by the former PML-N minister Bilal Yasin and others, the protesters said the Punjab government was responsible for taking possession of their agricultural land and warned the government of a “severe reaction” in case of their eviction from the land of their forefathers.
Ruda assures farmers
Later, Ruda officials made attempts to allay the concerns of the protesters. In a meeting with farmers, they assured that landowners’ rights would not be violated in the Ravi city, as “farmers are being paid for their land in a timely manner with a fixed package”.
Speaking on the occasion, Ruda CEO Imran Amin claimed that at least 70 per cent of landowners have been paid for their lands through the provincial Board of Revenue. He said the authority was ready to address the reservations of remaining farmers as the project “ensured welfare” of the people besides employment opportunities. He said that $40 billion in revenue would be generated from this project and added that an industrial zone on an area encompassing 3,500 hectares would be built as well.
He claimed that by constructing world-class river training works and barrages, flood damages could be minimised, while the water level of Lahore would also rise due to the construction of three lakes. “Additionally, recognising the Rakh Jhok Forest as a national park would promote tourism and aquatic life,” the official claimed.
It is worth noting that some farmers, who have not received compensation as of yet, have rejected the land acquisition process, terming it an illegal act on the part of the provincial government.
However, the government has claimed the land for the project is being acquired in line with the relevant laws, rules, and regulations.
Published in Dawn, September 21st, 2022