Rawalpindi - The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench Justice Shahid Mobin yesterday barred the Punjab government from acquiring land in the village Bochal Kallan in Kallar Kahar for setting up a private cement factory.

The court also issued stay order after conducting preliminary hearing of a petition filed by as many as 19 villagers against the land acquisition.

LHC Rawalpindi Bench Justice Shahid Mobin also ordered Commissioner Rawalpindi Division, District Coordination Officer (DCO) Chakwal, Secretary, Collector Land Acquisition Punjab and Secretary Department of Commerce, Industries and Investment to submit their written replies till April 21 the next date of hearing.

The LHC in its interim order suspended a notification of the Punjab government issued on March 29, 2016. The notification allowed the district administration to acquired 2587 kanals land in Bochal Kallan village for construction of the cement plant for Lucky Cement Private Limited.

According to details, a lady namely Zarina Bibi and 18 petitioners through their lawyer Chaudhry Imran Hassan Ali approached LHC Rawalpindi Bench and pleaded that the Punjab government could not acquire their land for commercial projects.

They said that it was wrong act on the part of the district collector to allow the land acquisition for construction of the cement factory that too for a private party. They said that under the constitution of Pakistan, no one could deprive them of their land.

Under the land acquisition laws, the government could obtain the land for the benefit of public at large, they said, adding the cement factory would provide no benefit to the residents of Bochal Kallan rather would destroy environment.

“The factory will offer only petty jobs like peons, guards, gardeners, and drivers to the residents. The project, instead, will also damage the financial and social interests of the villagers. The government will deprive them of their ancestral land that they had been using for agriculture and dairy purposes,” the petitioner mentioned.

They said that two cement factories had been working near their village already and the addition of the third one could result in environmental hazard. Citing different international researches, the petitioner had stated that the cement factories and limestone quarrying were harmful for human living in nearby areas.

Quoting statistics of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), the petitioners noted that production of the cement was in excess in the country. They said that there was no need for establishing new cement factories. They said that the chief executive of the Lucky Cement Private Limited was also chairman of the executive committee of the APCMA. The petitioners have prayed to LHC Rawalpindi Bench to set aside the notification for acquiring their land and stop the Punjab government from acquiring the land for the purpose of establishing the cement factory in Bochal Kallan in Kallar Kahar.