Despite the government’s lofty promises to preserve green areas, dire concerns raised by civil society over the commercialization of agricultural property, and court orders against it, hundreds of unauthorized housing schemes/projects have already been established or are currently being built on green areas, including approximately 230 such schemes in Lahore and its adjoining districts, are likely to be legalized/approved under a recently promulgated ordinance in the province.

 

The move, it is alleged, would help the dominant land mafia, which has amassed vast tracts of land in the green belts surrounding Lahore and other districts. The property mafia has created or is in the process of creating housing projects that violate land-use regulations and city master plans. After the ordinance, dubbed “The Punjab Commission for Regularization of Irregular Housing Schemes Ordinance-2021,” was promulgated on April 9, another relevant to limiting the LDA’s authority to the Lahore city district alone, rather than the whole division consisting of four districts, was promulgated.

 

On January 19, this year, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan ordered the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) to halt all construction work in illegal housing schemes built on agricultural land and to suspend the amnesty granted to them.

 

“Not a single wall or window should be constructed in a society developed on the agricultural land,” the CJ had warned the legal adviser to the LDA.

 

The Lahore division alone has over 600 illegal housing schemes and the number was 576 in January, this year. The 600 schemes include 230 developed or being established on green areas of Lahore, Kasur, Nankana Sahib, and Sheikhupura districts in violation of the master plan, laws, rules, and regulations.