ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s Land Use Committee has issued a recommendation to prohibit the conversion of prime agricultural land for the construction of housing societies.
This directive comes as part of the committee’s broader goal to foster systematic development and preserve crucial agricultural resources.
According to official sources, the committee’s recommendation entails delegating land use planning, building control, and zoning/land use responsibilities in growth zones to city governments across Pakistan.
The Prime Minister established this committee to provide input on land use planning and facilitate consensus on regulating agricultural land conversion into housing societies nationwide.
As per the details, the committee is led by the Planning Minister and comprises members including provincial chief secretaries, the secretary of the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, the secretary of the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, as well as Provincial Ministers for Agriculture, Cooperatives, Revenue, and Local Government.
The committee’s objectives include ensuring Pakistan’s prosperity and environmental sustainability through comprehensive land use planning. It also seeks to safeguard prime agricultural land from being transformed into housing societies without systematic planning, thus curbing unplanned urban sprawl.
Furthermore. the committee’s Terms of Reference (TORs) involve assessing the potential consequences of agricultural land conversion on food security, agricultural growth, rural livelihoods, and urbanization trends.
In addition, the committee will examine existing federal and provincial legislation and land use regulations, engaging with stakeholders and sector experts to develop a consensus among provinces regarding rules to discourage agricultural land conversion.
Among the committee’s recommendations are the ban on converting prime agricultural land for housing societies, the promotion of urban regeneration plans on a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) basis, and the encouragement of environmental protection initiatives, including extensive urban forestry.
The committee also called for the identification of 20-year expansion growth zones, focusing on irrigating barren lands to attain self-sufficiency in wheat and food crops.
It emphasized rainwater harvesting, aquifer recharging, strict implementation mechanisms, and defining and upgrading settlements with varying service levels.
It is worth noting that last week, the caretaker Minister for Planning requested provincial governments and the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) to submit their Master Plans, along with recommendations for regulating agricultural land conversion to housing societies.
Source: The Nation