Friday, July 19, 2024

Housing Societies Are Devouring Fertile Lands In Pakistan

Housing Societies Are Devouring The Fertile Lands In Pakistan. A Country Recognized as an Agriculture Economy and Food Rich Region, is Compelled to Import Basic Food Items. How Pathetic!

Devouring Started

Devouring Completed

Why Housing Societies Are Rising!
Gigantic housing builders are fast devouring Pakistan’s agricultural and productive lands, which will have hazardous effects on our country’s food security in the coming years. Unfortunately, in recent years, the growing population and housing needs of people have already transformed large areas of green land into large cities and towns.Northeastern Punjab and southern Sindh areas are now structured as concrete jungles, which are considered Pakistan’s main food baskets. According to Pakistan’s statistical report, devouring fertile lands is causing health, environmental, and sustainable issues in the country. Lahore, which is known as Pakistan’s largest city, is now the business hub of real estate developers and housing societies. Estate developers like Bahria, DHA, Bismillah, and Dream Housing are looking forward to starting new housing projects on the wall boundaries of Lahore which will be built on fertile green lands. One can imagine how many green fields will be cut which produce wheat, sugarcane and other seasonal crops and vegetables, apart from being fodder for animals until approval of upcoming housing projects. One of the major reasons for the start of housing projects is that these schemes are gated and well guarded. Therefore, the population is moving from conjugated areas to housing societies. According to the agricultural ministry, real estate developers are offering farmers four times more than the market price, a temptation hard to ignore (though the ground realities are totally different and opposite at many places). After selling farmlands to those housing companies, farmers are buying wheat, flour, and vegetables from the market, which is disappointing. It is hard to predict how long remaining farmers and agricultural landowners will resist in such market circumstances, where housing societies are offering four times more the market price. According to Shaukat Chadhar, secretary general of the farmers’ board, 70 percent of agricultural land in Lahore has already been turned into residential and industrial facilities, with 60 percent in Gujrat. Because of security concerns near the Indian border, the remaining 30% of productive lands in Lahore are safe. Other cities are also the same in ratios as per their productivity. Interestingly, the southern Punjab and northern areas of Sindh are still producing more than 50 percent of Pakistan’s wheat, sugar and cotton, which is satisfactory for now.

Food Challenges In Upcoming Years:
According to Shaukat Chadhar, daily base selling of green productive lands and Pakistan’s officials’ discouraging attitude towards this issue will lead us to a serious food security challenge in coming years. Because when greenery and fertile lands are cut down, environmental and sustainable issues will be covered up, which will lead to food scarcity, as per the UN research team. Agriculture and horticulture are no longer profitable businesses in countries like Pakistan, where governments like to fill the pockets of a few real estate developers, but not benefit the whole agriculture section. In recent years, Pakistan’s government has decided to import wheat and other crops just to cope up with the shortage of food, whether to save fertile lands or incentivise farmers. According to Mr. Chadhar, the government is importing these mentioned crops from Ukraine and Russia at high prices, but they are not willing to support local farmland owners. Moreover, they forced them to sell their fields to real estate developers and to look for other businesses. If this hilarious trend is not checked by officials seriously and instantly, Pakistan will face serious food scarcity challenges in coming years. The most challenging issue is that the government cannot ban agricultural land sales unless they incentivise and support farmers to crop their fields, because at the same time, they are getting four times the price of the market price of land. Recently, Imran Khan’s minister stated that, “we are worried and looking for a practical and feasible solution to prevent the construction on green/productive lands. Agriculture experts narrate about insecurities because there is no law that bars the sale of agricultural land for housing societies and for non-productive use. Imran Khan’s government is currently looking over the idea of constructing high-rise buildings in the middle of cities just to mitigate the risk of cutting fertile land for housing projects. If Pakistan’s government is successful in constructing high-rise buildings in the middle of each city, then the devouring of green land will hopefully be resolved.

Housing Societies Are Not Beneficial For Poor Community:
According to the Karachi-based urban planner, Arif Hassan, these housing societies and colonies are meant for the rich and well-settled communities, not for the poor and middle class. These gated and green-land-placed housing colonies are providing better lifestyles and quieter places to live for rich people because these colonies’ rates are higher than conjugated areas. That is why poor or middle class families don’t pay attention and prefer to live in these housing colonies. According to Arif, these real estate developers and housing societies have found a great way to launder their black money by investing in plots or building. The reason for this is that last year the government announced there would be no question about the source of finance if one invested in the construction and real estate industry. As per expert opinion, if the government truly wants to support poor people with housing needs, then they must construct low-cost colonies outside the cities, not in the middle of them. In Lahore alone, the government has its own 2500-acre land where they can develop housing colonies for the poor community. By such practices, only poor or deserving people will reach out, because the rich don’t need to go outside the cities where there are no big markets and malls around.

Environmental & Sustainable Issues:
In Pakistan recently, unhealthy environmental and sustainable practices have been recorded where mango trees are loaded into trucks that were cut down to develop housing colonies. Multan is the city which is known as the “city of mango”, but no action was taken against those estate giants. Not only for this, but actually due to mango exports, Pakistan earns a huge amount of foreign exchange. When this happened, all the environmentalists started criticizing these projects in Multan. Then the government announced plans to develop a new city on twin islands just to cool down the matter. Fortunately, sustainability experts and environmentalists rejected and criticized this plan. Environmentalists have slammed the government’s plan to develop a new mega-city on twin islands in the Arabian Sea, calling the ambitious agenda a “severe” threat to the entire regional ecosystem. According to environmentalists, when the government approves such kinds of projects, the ecosystem is disturbed because green-lands are the source of food for animals and other species that are important for human health. Due to unplanned urbanization, pollution and haze have already reached hazardous levels. More construction in forest and agricultural lands will go nowhere because it will also contribute to global warming. These housing colonies are very dangerous as they will not only affect national sustainability and environmental balance but also cause food scarcity. The reason is that the cutting and devouring of fertile and green lands affects the nation in multiple ways, like food scarcity, foreign exchange, living standards, and environmental and sustainable issues.

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Category: Lifestyle, Social

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