Sharifs surrender to the will of people

Nawaz Shahbaz

Succumbing to violent mob that tried twice to besiege PML-N president Nawaz Sharif’s residence at Jatti Umra in Raiwind, the Punjab government has dropped with immediate effect its well-trumpeted housing scheme ‘LDA City’ designed by Lahore Development Authority.
It was second time on Friday in a month that thousands of owners whose land was acquired and notified by LDA in November 2011 under Land Acquisition Act 1894 resorted to surround the residence of Nawaz Sharif to register their protests against government move to acquire 45,000 kanal land for LDA City in the area of seven Mozas.
After the charged demonstrators were intercepted by police contingents on the way to Nawaz’s residence, they started hurling slogans against the Sharifs.
Taking cognizance of the embroiled situation, LDA officials including LDA DG Abdul Jabbar Shaheen and Chief Metropolitan Planner Waseem Ahmed Khan were summoned at Jatti Umra forthwith who held talks with a 5-member delegation of the land owners. In the results of marathon negotiations, LDA announced to drop the LDA City project that caused jubilations among the protestors. LDA DG’ Personal Staff Officer Fawad Amir told Pakistan Today that LDA City project had been scrapped due to unwillingness of the people. “We believe in democracy wherein will of people prevails”, he added.
The residents of the local area upped the ante against LDA City spreading over 45,000 kanal land in the area of seven Mozas (towns) including Kahna, Halloki, Toor Warriach, Thay Panju, Sidher, Rakh Jhedu and Kacha at Ferozepur Road.
Last time, thousands of protestors, holding up placards and waving banners, gathered in front of residence of Nawaz Sharif at Jatt Umra in Raiwind and opposed en-masse the launch of housing scheme designed on the pattern of Defence Housing Authority (DHA), Lahore.
Headed by Sami Khan, protestors turned down prescribed terms and conditions laid down by LDA for compensation in consideration of acquiring their land. He said most of the land, acquired by LDA, had been producing crops like wheat, rice, sugarcane and fodder having a big role in fulfilling the food demands of Lahorites. “LDA City would deprive more than 0.1 million farmers of their agricultural land and sole livelihood,” he moaned. Sami said LDA had promised to give 30 per cent developed plots in the scheme besides charging 50 per cent development charges as compensation to the land owners. Jamshaid Khan, another land owner, said usually the government hosing schemes took 15 to 20 years to get built and LDA Avenue-1 was best example in this regard. “This means we will have to wait 15 to 20 years to sell out our plots in the scheme. During this long time, who will provide us employment and livelihood?”, he questioned.
The protestors alleged that PML-N MPA Malik Saiful Malook who had more than 100 acres land in the area withdrew his land from the LDA City housing scheme by using his political influence. Another PML-N leader Rana Mubashar had done the same, they added. An LDA senior official said that a local court had recently stopped the Punjab government to acquire 76 kanal and 19 marla in Narowal, adding Sections 17/4 of the Land Acquisition Act apply only in case of emergency. In normal circumstances, the Act stands invalid and the government had no authority to usurp basic rights of the people, he quoted the court as having said in its order.

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