LDA Avenue-I scheme Villagers stay put to save remaining land

LAHORE, May 4: Price factor is the main reason behind Nasir Ganj villagers’ strong resistance to the LDA operation to retrieve `state’ land falling in the LDA Avenue-1 residential scheme on Raiwind Road.

In a day-long operation on Thursday which left over a dozen people injured, the LDA retrieved 250 kanal land the villagers had refused to surrender at a `cheaper’ rate of of Rs400,000 per acre (eight kanal).

Nasir Ganj land owners told Dawn on Friday that though the officials had succeeded in retrieving the land from them forcibly on Thursday, they would put up a do and died resistance if the authority tried to eject them from the remaining seven kanal land housing their dwellings.“Most of the male family members were not present in the village on Thursday. In our absence scores of LDA staff and policemen entered the village along with heavy machinery and started demolishing our houses without giving us any notice in advance,” Mian Babar Ali, a land owner, told Dawn.

He said his uncle Haji Hameed Ali briefed the LDA team on the legal position of the land and certain commitments about payment of a reasonable compensation by former LDA Director General Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, but no one listened to him and continued demolishing their houses. “Legally the land where structures (houses and buildings) already existed could not be acquired under the Land Revenue Act,” he claimed.

Talking to Dawn, Haji Hameed Ali rejected ADG Ms Kayani’s claim on thrashing the protesting women (Raheela and Naseem) in self-defence. He said how could in the presence of over 300 LDA staff and police one or two women dared touch Ms Kayani.

He said the LDA announced launch of this scheme (Avenue-1) in 2002 and included around 257-kanal land in the award list in 2003 under the Land Acquisition Act without consulting all the owners. “As we were not ready to surrender our land to the LDA because of their unrealistic price offer, we approached the courts to settle the price issue (the case is still pending).

He said in December 2011, the then LDA DG contacted him and other land owners and a series of dialogues took place. He said during the first week of March this year, Mr Shaheen decided to give 25 per cent developed plots of the total land (if surrendered by their owners) on the pattern of DHA. “The DG constituted a committee in this regard and we too welcomed this decision,” he said, adding that on March 19 the government transferred Mr Shaheen to Gujranawala and his successor Mr Ahad Cheema didn’t follow his predecessor’s decision.

He said the village where a piece of land measuring one acre (adjacent to our land in the Iqbal Avenue residential scheme) was being sold for Rs10 million, why should we accept such a meager price of Rs400,000 for the LDA Avenue-1 scheme. “We want the government to pay us according to the market value or give us the developed plots (25 per cent
share of the total surrendered land).