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September 23, 2011

Concern voiced at proposed housing scheme on fertile lands


September 23, 2011

PESHAWAR: The Citizens for Clean Environment (CCE) has expressed concern over the Peshawar Development Authority (PDA) s proposed housing scheme at Urmar village in Peshawar district.
The CCE, which comprises the Peshawar chapter of the Institute of Architects of Pakistan, Frontier Heritage Trust, De Laas Gul, Sarhad Conservation Network and the Gandhara Hindko Board, has termed the proposed scheme against the UN convention on Sustainable Development (Rio Declaration) where communities are stakeholders in all development projects.
In a press release on Thursday, the CCE said the PDA scheme was shocking as it would affect the population residing on approximately 14,000 acres of fertile vegetable-producing land in Urmar village adjacent to Peshawar. It said not only has the mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) been ignored, residents of various villages have publicly demonstrated against the scheme.
The CCE said Peshawar was already bursting with the disastrous consequences of rural to urban migration and any trouble in far-flung regions like Chitral shall force conflict-related migrations into the capital city, dispossessing the owners of fertile agricultural land.
The widening of Grand Trunk Road and the Khyber Road and flyovers projects have been rightly rejected by stakeholders owing to total circumvention of the citizens and expert viewpoint during the early planning stage, besides, not fulfilling the legal obligation of submitting an EIA which is mandatory under the Section 12 of the Pakistan Environment Protection Act 1997.
The Peshawar High Court Environmental Tribunal KP was made dysfunctional by posting out its chairperson. Equally revealing is the role of the bureaucracy becoming a silent spectator in contravention of the legal obligation of mandatory EIA, said the press release.
The CCE deplored that petition filed by it in the PHC against these projects had not received due attention. This reflects the callousness

of the educated sections of society towards the disastrous impact of environment on the health and livelihood of affected population, it added.
The CCE urged the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Environment Protection Agency and UN Conference on Sustainable Development (REDD), Islamabad to rescue the vulnerable communities of the KP being ruthlessly exploited by the ongoing conflicts as well as the government officials.

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