Land use: Housing on agri-land to be referred to 2nd committee


Members of a committee formed to delineate peripheral urban areas discussed the challenges of displacing housing schemes built illegally in agricultural areas at their second meeting on Monday.

The committee was formed recently to “ensure that agriculture land/green areas are saved at reasonable levels to provide oxygen to congested localities,” according to a city government notification.

The meeting on Monday, chaired by Aslam Mughal, president of the Institute of Planners Pakistan, considered which housing schemes should be allowed to remain and which should not.

Masood Tamanna, the executive district officer for municipal services and a member of the committee, told The Express Tribune that any housing scheme adjudged to be in an agricultural area will be referred to a conflict resolution committee.

At the meeting, some members suggested that rather than declaring certain green regions as agricultural areas, they should be declared protected environmental protected zones, because agricultural areas could be easily denotified and converted to commercial or residential areas.

Tamanna later told The Tribune that this proposal was not viable as the there was no such classification in the land use rules. “The area has to be declared an agricultural area in order for it to be protected,” he said.

A committee member said that housing schemes built on agricultural land more than three years ago would be legally difficult to displace, since before the Land Use Rules of 2009, the status of such schemes was a grey area.

However, Tamanna dismissed this concern, saying that there were land use rules before 2009 too.

The Lahore Development Authority recently declared 101 housing schemes in the city illegal for violating zoning rules. The city government has stopped the transfer of property in these housing schemes by freezing the issuance of No Objection Certificates from the District Office of Special Planning which was not given.Dr Nasir Javed, the Urban Unit project director, said that calls for these housing schemes to be allowed to facilitate the people were misplaced. He said that most of these housing schemes were for rich people. He said it was important to concentrate on development in crowded urban areas such as Harbanspura and Shahdara.

The possibility of declaring peri-urban areas in Burki and Bedian was also discussed.