Committee bans conversion of prime agriculture lands for housing societies

ISLAMABAD   -  The Prime Minister Land Use Committee has recommended ban on conversion of prime agriculture land for construction of housing societies.

As per the recommendation of the land use committee, land use plan in Pakistan, building control and zoning/land use in growth zones given to city government, official source told The Nation. 

The committee was established by the Prime Minister to give its input on land use plan, for fostering agreement on regulating the conversion of agricultural land to housing societies across the country.

The Planning Minister is the convener of the committee and its members include provincial chief secretaries, secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, secretary Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, as well as the Provincial Ministers for Agriculture, Cooperatives, Revenue, and Local Government.

The land use committee aims to make Pakistan prosperous and green through a comprehensive and integrated land use planning and safeguard prime agriculture land from conversion into housing societies for systematic planning of development initiatives and aimed to control sprawl through planned development.

The committee’s Terms of Reference (TORs) include deliberating on the potential implications of converting agricultural land by land developers or housing societies with regard to food security, agricultural growth, livelihoods of rural communities and the increasing pace of migration to urban areas. The TORs also involve examining existing federal and provincial legislation related to the subject, as well as prevailing land use and zoning regulations. The committee is to consult with relevant stakeholders and sector experts to develop consensus among provinces regarding the introduction of rules to discourage the conversion of agricultural land into housing societies or industrial estates.

The committee recommended that conversion of prime agriculture land should be banned for housing societies. Similarly, it was also recommended that urban regeneration plans may be made and implemented in urban centres on PPP Mode.

The protection of environment ecosystem including forest land, urban development on barren land should be encouraged, extensive urban forestry and 20 years expansion zone to be identified & handed over to City Governments, recommended by the land use committee.

Building control and zoning/land use in growth zones given to city government, land use policy & land use rules to be notified, encourage high rise developments and Urban roads to be linked with high speed corridors to reduce Rural-Urban migration, recommended the land use committee. 

The committee also recommended that new housing schemes will be allowed inside 20 years expansion growth zones and banned outside the zone, land speculations may be discouraged and optimal use of land may be ensured, and hierarchy of settlements with level of services to be defined and upgraded.

Barren lands need to be irrigated to attain self sufficiency in wheat and food crops, rain water harvesting and recharging of aquifers be included, strict implementation mechanism be ensured.

It is worth to mention here that the caretaker Minister for Planning, had last week asked the provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) to submit their respective Master Plans with recommendations on regulating the conversion of agricultural land to housing societies in Pakistan.

The committee will firm up its recommendations within a period of one month and share the same with the Prime Minister’s Office, said the source.

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