KARACHI - Gadap Town nazim, Ghulam Murtaza Baloch, has said that hike in the lease tax for farmers has added to their problems and demanded the government to withdraw it immediately. He said that the government of former Chief Minister Sindh, Arbab Ghulam Rahim, imposed a tax of Rs 300 per acre of land on farmers which has driven them to the brink of starvation. Town nazim said this while briefing the adviser to Sindh Chief Minister, Sharmila Farooqui, during her visit to the area on Monday. Murtaza Baloch informed the adviser that Rs 300 lease tax on land had created serious financial hardships for the peasants of Gadap Town. He added that rural areas of the metropolis were already lagging behind other localities in term of progress due to the acute lack of civic amenities. He further said that at least 750 villages in the area did not have and 350 others are without electricity while persistent water shortage has become a permanent headache for the residents of different local goths. Sharmila Farooqui also visited the cultivated land in villages of the town and assured the town nazim that she would recommend the provincial government to abolish the present lease tax on priority basis. Gadap town nazim said that after the construction of watercourses and installation of tubewells in the area, local farmers have started producing all types of vegetables and fruits. Murtaza Baloch told Sharmila Farooqui that due to the federal governments National Programme for Improvement of Watercourses (NPIW), Gadap Town was producing huge quantities of vegetables and fruits and this potential could be further boosted if proper facilities, necessary for the cultivation, were to the farmers. He added that in past, the lease tax was Rs 50 per acre but and it had been increased abruptly up to the Rs 300 per acre due to which farmers were facing serious financial problems. He demanded for the immediate withdrawal of this tax. Baloch was hopeful that by the end of the current year, Gadap Town would be able to increase its production of vegetables and fruits. He further said that to overcome the water shortage, drip-watering system had also been introduced in the area. He mentioned that agricultural land in Gadap Town was producing huge quantities of tomatoes, peas, onion, chilli, carrots, cabbage, turnip, cucumber, coconut, papaya, banana, citrus, pomegranate, custard apple, guava and other vegetables and fruits.