The Supreme Court has directed the Federal and the Provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to submit reply on acquisition of land for setting up of Haripur Cement Factory. A two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Yahya Afridi heard the case of land acquisition against increasing the compensation. During the hearing, the court asked the Federal and the Provincial governments to apprise the procedure for acquiring land for the establishment of cement factory in Haripur.
The counsel for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) government informed the Court that the cement factory was being set up for the construction of Diamer-Bhasha dam. According to government’s Counsel the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) had prepared the feasibility report for setting up of Cement factory at the required location. He negated the news that FWO had acquired the land for the factory. He further claimed that the method of land acquisition had been followed whereas the petitioner alleged that the land had not been acquired by the government according to set rules and procedures.
According to reports, KP government planned to acquire about 2, 448 Kanals of land for setting up cement factory for the purpose of construction of CPEC or Diamer-Basha Dam in two villages namely Khoi Nara and Bandi Muneem of Bareela Union Council, District Hari Pur in early 2018. However, the villagers protested the government decision while accusing government for maltreating the landowners. According to villagers, the revenue department-imposed section-4 of land acquisition act by declaring the subject land as non-fertile which was contrary to the facts. The villagers claimed that the land was fully developed having schools, mosque and a farm of olive plants having hundreds of thousands of olive trees on that piece of land.
However, some reports suggest that, FWO had planned to invest US dollar 245 million in cement manufacturing plant for its business purposes. The local villagers opposed the project and refused to sell their land. Later, provincial government of KPK said that it was procuring the land for setting up cement factory for construction of Diamer-Basha Dam or CPEC etc. and FWO was assigned to prepare feasibility report for the project by KP government.
There are some other interesting twists in the story of Cement factory. First of all, the difference in claims by both parties regarding status of the piece of land. Provincial government declared the land as non-fertile and imposition of section-4 of revenue act to buy the public land for free or in coins instead of millions. On other hand, the villagers claimed to have schools, mosque and olive trees farm on the land to get maximum out of the government exchequer. Secondly, Construction of Diamer-Basha dam is a federal subject and usually federal government award contract to a construction giant for construction of the dam instead of setting up material factories for onward dam construction. Therefore, this story is not much appealing to many in the town. The court can dig out the facts behind the stated stories and some interesting facts are yet to come to educate the readers in days ahead.