PESHAWAR: The Charsadda district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has experienced a significant shift over the last 5 years, with agricultural land being transformed into sprawling construction projects.
However, this trend is sparking concerns among experts as it not only depletes under-cultivated land but also disrupts vital irrigation systems essential for agriculture.
The experts cautioned that this shift from agriculture to commercial land could potentially lead to food shortages and exacerbate the already rising temperatures.
According to officials from the Tehsil Municipal Administration, a private housing society has recently emerged in the Chak Nissata area of Charsadda district, near the Peshawar Motorway.
This construction project covers around 500 kanal of land, with plans to expand to an additional 5.5 thousand kanal of under-cultivated land.
A resident Abdullah Jan from Chak Nissata has observed this transformation unfolded over the past half-century.
He expressed concern that the housing society’s expansion is affecting the irrigation systems crucial for local farmers’ livelihoods.
Abdullah Jan highlights the risk of flooding, recalling the devastating 2010 floods that submerged the entire area.
He also urged potential buyers to reconsider purchasing flood-prone land and advocated for preserving agricultural spaces.
Other residents of Chak Nissata assert that approximately 60,000 kanal of agricultural land have been encroached upon by private housing societies, causing harm to food crops and depleting vital resources.
They stressed that this situation could exacerbate food scarcity in the region, which is already dependent on other provinces for sustenance.
In addition, environmental experts cautioned that the surge in construction projects is linked to escalating population growth, which could lead to elevated temperatures and water table decline.
Dr. Hizbullah Jan explained that land with crops naturally absorbs water and plays a role in maintaining a functioning water cycle.
He highlighted that removing vegetation contributes to rising temperatures, and increased construction generates heat, warming the atmosphere.
As the latest census indicates Pakistan’s population has surpassed 241.4 million, and environmental concerns and population growth are intrinsically linked.
Journalist Syed Shah Raza Shah underscores Pakistan’s vulnerability to climate change due to its population growth.
To counteract this trend, Shah advocated for population control and smaller construction projects to maintain equilibrium and sustainable development.
Besides, the officials from the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) have identified deficits in the documentation for mega projects and have begun issuing notices to project proprietors to ensure compliance with regulations.