April 2020



Bureau ReportMarch 30, 2020Facebook Count

PESHAWAR: The organisations working for welfare of peasants and farmers have called upon the government to ensure that the lockdowns and quarantines are not carried out at the expense of the food security of the people.

They asked the government to provide immediate economic relief to the marginalised sectors including the landless rural people.

To mark the “Day of the Landless” on Sunday, two organisations Roots for Equity and Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), asked the government to ensure that no further displacements of the rural people from their lands and livelihood were carried out in the pretext of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The organisatons state that they commemorate the Day of the Landless with utmost concern as the landless rural people are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisations say landless rural people vulnerable to impacts of Covid-19 pandemic

In a media release, they state that with many countries implementing sweeping lockdowns and quarantines often with vague operational guidelines, to contain the spread of Covid-19, the agriculture and food supply chain faces great disruption with an escalating price-hike already sending food prices to very high levels.

They say that landless peasants along with small farmers are forced to work in a variety of oppressive conditions on lands under feudal ownership.

“Women growers particularly work under double tier of exploitation at the hands of landlord as well as patriarchy. Along with this, capitalist agriculture through its mega corporations has captured agricultural production and markets resulting in a huge increase in the percentages of the landless,” they say.

They claim that the landless workers are forced to work in the informal sector on daily wages in a variety of situations. “Together with the rest of ordinary toiling people, they bear the brunt of the raging public health crisis of Covid-19 that has paralysed almost all economic activities and pushed them to further food insecurity and poverty,” they maintain.

They say that livelihoods in jeopardy the small producers and poor consumers are suffering the major brunt of the lockdown. They add that in addition, with total ban on inter and intra-provincial travel, agriculture workers and other daily wagers have no means of finding work.

They fear that the Covid-19 may be used as cover up to further harass and dislocate farming communities as part of evictions under land grabbing for corporate interests.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2020



By RECORDER REPORT on March 30, 2020

The provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has planned the establishment of 10 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the province to promote industry, trade and general employment opportunities for youth.

According to draft policy of KP Industrial Policy 2020-30, the provincial government would construct ten economic zones that are included Hattar SEZ extension (1000 acres), Darband (D.I. Khan) SEZ (1500 acres), Mohmand SEZ (350 acres), Nowshera extension EZ (77 acres), Swat EZ, Buner EZ, Shakas (KPEC), Chitral EZ, Ghazi and Jalozai.

Besides, these projects, the provincial government will also established at least two SEZs under Public Private Partnership (PPP) like Rashakai SEZ in next five years and will provide effective governance system to help support rapid industrialization.

Under the proposed industrial policy, the provincial government will also promote coordination and integration amongst the government functionaries to facilitate investment/industrialization.

The draft policy has also proposed the establishment of international standard logistic parks and provision of easy access and availability of diversified credit lines by commercial banks to the industries.

The policy has also proposed the establishment of the sector specific economic zones across various districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and promotion of competitive SMEs and cottage industry and generation of the herds of skilled workforce as per demand of the industry.

For the achievement of the desired goals, the provincial government beside construction industry will also take steps for the promotion of pharmaceutical, electronics, home appliances, apparel, transshipment, IT based as well as food and beverages and labor intensive industries.

The government is also going to offer incentives for attracting enterprises to establish industries in economic zones.

The efforts of the provincial government would include encouraging private SEZs, encouraging PPP for development of SEZs, industries based on indigenous resources, cluster based zones, reduce or equally spread out cost of land and provision of timely and appropriate infrastructure facilities.

The provincial government under the new industrial policy will provide necessary utilities such as electricity and gas in a timely manner in close coordination with federal government to galvanize and expedite industrial activity and also reduce processing time for obtaining utility connections.

It will also take steps for establishment of a simple and comprehensive PPP legal framework, capacity building of stakeholders for handling PPP framework and coordination with national and international zone developers for establishment of SEZs under PPP and joint ventures and will support export led industry, import substitution and encourage joint ventures.

It is also working on plan of bringing efficient and effective dispute resolution system. The grievance management process will be guided by the principles of fairness, objectivity and lawfulness while in parallel with planning for development of Special Economic Zones, modern international standard logistics parks will also be planned to attract logistic companies to establish logistic parks.

The provincial government will strengthen coordination with commercial banks for ensuring availability of financing with a special focus on Bank of Khyber and will identify feasible and viable locations for establishment of sector specific special economic zones and encourage both local and foreign companies to establish their units across different areas of the province.

The provincial government will also make efforts to avoid duplication in regulations to establish effective structure of Research and Development (R&D) and innovation industries and will adopt emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, Chinese traditional medicines and encourage local investors/ industrialists to relocate their industries to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020




Amin Ahmed Updated April 21, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Punjab government is seeking a loan of $150 million from the World Bank for a land mapping project for accessing land records and for housing programmes in the province, it is learnt.

The proposed project aims to achieve provision of a cadastral map (a map that shows the boundaries and ownership of land within specified area) linked to digital land records, access to land for housing and a unified modern land information system.

As a first step towards the land mapping, the project envisages installation of geodetic control points (permanent reference markers placed in the ground to support the production of data collection for surveying and mapping projects) and generating base maps (maps having only essential outlines and used for the plotting or presentation of specialised data of various kinds).

These geospatial (data that is directly linked to specific geographical locations) products could then be made accessible to a larger community for a variety of decisions which could contribute to the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) initiative in Pakistan, according to project details. The proposed project also aims to have revenue maps scanned and made available in digital form.

With regard to digital cadastral maps, the project intends to inform the public and in case disputes arise, safeguards have been promised to be placed for the mediation and resolution of the land mapping disputes. The new cadastral maps would then be linked to the land records in the Land Records Management and Information Systems.

Another major reason given for seeking the World Bank loan for this particular project is that both federal and Punjab governments say they will not be able to achieve the goal of “Naya Pakistan Housing Programme” of constructing nearly 2.6 million low-cost housing units in Punjab if the province’s urban land record challenges are not resolved.

Under the “Punjab Growth Strategy 2023”, the provincial government plans to increase the average number of housing units to 640,000 annually over the next five years.

Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2020




By ​ Our Correspondent Published: May 1, 2020

HYDERABAD: The Sindh High Court (SHC) ordered on Thursday the returning of the land acquired for the Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Town (SMBBT) project in Mirpurkhas to the Sindh Horticulture Research Institute, Mirpurkhas.

In its detailed judgment, the Hyderabad circuit bench, comprising Justice Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui and Justice Muhammad Faisal Kamal Alam, gave the government two weeks to implement the order.

“If any structure is raised on the land in question, it should be demolished within two weeks and the entire land should be handed over to the department,” states the order.

In 2010 and 2011, former president Asif Ali Zardari had ordered the provincial government to identify land for the SMBBT scheme, launched as a low-cost housing scheme.

A team of officials from the land utilisation (LU) department, along with the former Mirpurkhas commissioner and deputy commissioner selected 78.13 acres from the institute’s 282 acres for the township project.

However, the move was challenged in the SHC, with the petitioners arguing that the research farm’s land should not be used for residential purposes as it would affect ongoing research activities.

The institute was established in 1904 to conduct research on various crops, with the introduction of mango varieties as one of its achievements. According to the institute, 70 acres of the farm is dedicated for research on mangoes, 51 acres for vegetables, 24 for poultry and the remainder for other fruits and the office area.

The petitioner pointed out that efforts had also been made to occupy the land in the past, pointing to a 2009 SHC order that barred the conversion of the land for any other purpose.

“It is very surprising that despite the written comments of the Sindh government [that] research work has been continuing for last 70 years, the assistant advocate general stated that no research was in progress,” the bench observed.

In 2011, the SMBBT facilitation committee identified land in 19 districts of Sindh for the project, including 200 acres in Hyderabad and 100 acres in Mirpurkahs. The LU department was of the view that agricultural research had no potential on the land and it should therefore be used for ‘concrete structures.’

The institute submitted in court evidence to corroborate its assertion that the land had been in use for research, showing a list stating that annual horticultural events had been held there almost every year from 1965 to 2018.

The court noted that the Sindh chief minister and agriculture minister had attended the events between 2008 to 2012, but despite professing admiration of the institute’s work, they had consented to Zardari’s desire. It added that the Sindh agriculture department’s attempt to save the land had been half-hearted.

The SHC further observed that ongoing rural urbanisation may be beneficial in the short term but would entail repercussions in the future.

Stating that agricultural land should not be spared for concrete structures when other options such as barren land were available, the judges said that legislation should be made preventing fertile land from being used for other purposes.

“We have often seen that for roads, bridges, gas or oil pipelines…most precious lands are acquired or intercepted…not realising that while doing so, we are not only destroying fertile land but also risking our future [with regard to food security],” read the order.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2020.