MD SIDB declares fertile land as barren to setup eco zone: PHC told

Humayun Khan
PESHAWAR: A divisional bench comprising of Chief Justice Peshawar High Court (PHC) Justice Qaiser Rashid and Justice SM Attique Shah has formed commission under retired District and Session Judge Ahmad Sultan Tareen while directed to submit complete within two weeks regarding status of land that it is agriculture or barren obtained by Small Industrial Development Board (SIDB) for economic zone in Swabi, on Thursday.
The divisional bench observed that court shall issue directions in light of commission’s report regarding status of land (agriculture or barren) during hearing of writ petition of four residents of Swabi including Iftitah Ullah and Muhammad Usman.
During hearing Additional Advocate General (AAG) Syed Sikandar Shah, Managing Director SIDB Fakhar Alam along with legal advisor Wasim-u-Din Khattak while counsel for petitioners Shahid Munir, Muzammil Khan, Tariq Kamal and Rehman Ullah Advocates appeared before PHC.
The counsel argued that MD SIDB has visited the area on PHC orders while declared agriculture land as barren to obtained it for economic zone on low price and added that local inhabitants are completely dependent upon agriculture while canal has also constructed on the land for irrigation by the government. He added that MD SIDB has made report contradictory with facts.
The counsel for petitioner Tariq Kamal Advocate informed PHC that Agriculture Officer Swabi has forwarded observation report to Deputy Commissioner stated that proposed economic zone by SIDB should be comprised of 94% agriculture land. He added that reports had disclosed that agriculture land across the province has been acquired for economic zones which will extremely impact agriculture of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Chief Justice inquired from MD SIDB regarding status of the acquired land, MD Fakhar Alam argued that it is barren land, however, the counsel opposed SIDB claims and argued that the land located near University of Swabi while added that common man can able to describe it status of fertility.
The counsel argued that Agriculture officer’s report has cleared the situation by declaring the land as fertile and added that SIDB can obtain barren land for establishment of economic zones which is available in abundance in the district. The counsel argued that it will deprive the petitioners from their agriculture because they are involved in cultivation of crops while provincial government has set worth of the land as of unfertile because SIDB has declared as barren which against constitution and law. The divisional bench observed that PHC shall decide it in light commission report that it is either fertile or barren land while directed petitioners to pay Rs50 thousand fee for the commission and adjourned further hearing till 17th November.