The caretaker Minister for Planning, Development & Special Initiatives, Muhammad Sami Saeed, asked the provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) to submit their respective Master Plans with recommendations in one week.
The Minister made these remarks while chairing a committee meeting aimed at “Building Consensus for Regulating the Conversion of Agricultural Land to Housing Societies in Pakistan.” This committee was established by the Prime Minister to foster agreement on regulating the conversion of agricultural land to housing societies across the country.
The caretaker Planning Minister is the Convener of the committee and its members include provincial Chief Secretaries, the Secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, the Secretary Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, as well as the Provincial Ministers for Agriculture, Cooperatives, Revenue, and local government.
“There is a dire need of the hour to preserve the agricultural land keeping in view the challenges being faced by the country,” remarked the Minister, while chairing the second meeting over the subject.
The meeting was attended by the Secretary of the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC), Additional Secretary, IPC, Chief Statistic Pakistan Bureau of Statistic PBS, Member Infrastructure at Planning Commission, Chairman Naya Pakistan Housing & Development Authority NPHDA and representatives from the provinces were also present at in the meeting.
The Master Plans, Legal Framework, and implementation are the essential steps that need to be addressed properly, said the Minister, while reiterating that the government is taking serious steps to preserve the agricultural land in the country.
During the meeting, the relevant stakeholders from the provinces and ICT apprised the forum about the existence of their respective Master Plans, their legal framework, and mechanisms to implement their laws. The Minister while directed the relevant stakeholders to submit their recommendations with Master Plans within one week.
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.
Moreover, the committee aims to foster and develop general guidelines that discourage the conversion of agricultural land into housing societies and to discuss measures for introducing vertical housing in cities and urban centers. Additionally, the committee will deliberate on planning future industrial zones in non-cultivable areas.