Protest in Pak against Imran Khan, Punjab CM for forceful acquisition of agricultural lands

Sep 23, 2022

Islamabad [Pakistan], September 23 : A protest broke out in Punjab province against the former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan and the current chief minister of Punjab Pervaiz Elahi for allegedly forceful acquisition of agricultural lands.
The protestors accused Khan and the Punjab CM of forceful acquisition of agricultural lands by the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) which is carrying out a 46-km-long real estate project along the Ravi River in a Public-Private partnership in Lahore district, local media reported.
They alleged that the duo forcefully acquired the land by destroying crops on hundreds of acres in the Ferozewala area of the district.
The protesters accused the authority of forcibly acquiring land by destroying crops on hundreds of acres in the Ferozewala area of the district, local media reported.
The victims of the Ravi River Front Urban Development Project (RRUDP) also announced mega protests against the government and RUDA all over the province by the end of the week.
RRUDP is an urban development mega project in Punjab's Lahore District, which includes the construction of a 41,308-hectare planned city and the rehabilitation of the Ravi River into a perennial freshwater body.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on January 25, this year had scrapped the project by declaring it illegal for various violations of laws, including the absence of a master plan. The LHC had declared the RRUDP illegal while announcing a verdict on the petitions challenging the mode and manner of the land acquisition proceedings undertaken by the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA).
The court directed the Authority to return the money it had acquired from the government within two months.
The petitioners had questioned the legality of forceful acquisitions of land for commercial purposes under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, while some of them questioned the legality of the Environment Impact Assessment of the project prepared by an unregistered consultant, reported Geo News.
The petitioners' counsels objected that if the project was bereft of environmental impact assessment, how could it be presumed of public purpose.
They argued that the project would deprive the farmers of their precious land and such deprivation was an infringement of fundamental rights, reported Geo News.
On this, the LHC had stayed the process of land acquisition for the project for not meeting the legal requirements and environmental laws over the petitions.
However, the Supreme Court suspended the LHC verdict, giving RUDA conditional permission to work on the land whose compensation had been paid to its owners without using force for more land acquisition.
The Supreme Court directed the Punjab government to resume work on RRUDP and made clear that work can be resumed only on lands that have been paid for.
The government of Punjab was of the view that since Ravi Urban Authority (amendment) Ordinance 2021 was passed to cover legal infirmities, the stay orders granted by the court and the petitions against the project stood infructuous.