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River Ravi project: Punjab govt stopped from acquiring agricultural land

Hearing adjourned till March 4

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 2, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Mar 2, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
River Ravi project: Punjab govt stopped from acquiring agricultural land

Residents sit alongside the polluted Ravi river on the outskirts of Lahore on August 19, 2020. Photo: Online

The Lahore High Court has extended its stay till March 4 on the Punjab government’s decision to acquire agricultural land in the River Ravi project case.

The court has summoned a reply from the Punjab government by the next hearing.

The petition in the case has been filed by Hassan Ali Ranjha, a resident of
T & T Abpara Housing Society. He asked for the government to take steps against smog and stop the ‘illegal construction’ along the river.

Related: LHC appoints international consultant for River Ravi project assessment

The Ravi Urban Development Authority has started “acquiring land without disclosing the public purpose and without seeking the environmental impact assessment of the project”, he said in the petition.

“Large swathes of agricultural land is likely to be gobbled up which would further hamper the biological diversity keeping in view Convention on Biological Diversity and public trust doctrine.” The Punjab government should disclose the purpose of acquiring land and issue a notification under the Land Acquisition Act 1894.

The exercise of powers by the Ravi Urban Development Authority should be declared illegal and ultra vires, the petition argued.

On February 25, the court instructed the government to appoint an international consultant for the environmental assessment of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project.

Last month, the construction of the project was halted after the court said that the project has to be cleared by all environmental agencies.

Ravi Riverfront Urban Development project

Imran Khan inaugurated the Ravi Urban Development Authority in August 2020 took look after the project. He claimed that the project will save the city of Lahore.

If we want to save Lahore, this project needs to be made, he said, adding that without it, Lahore would have to face water problems that Karachi is facing today.

“The pollution level in Lahore has surpassed the danger level which can impact the health of people,” he said.

On December 4, 2020 Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed the Frontier Works Organisation and the National Logistics Cell have started the work on the project.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar approved a Rs5 billion loan for the project during a cabinet meeting on December 18, 2020. The money will be used to purchase the land.

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