RAHIM YAR KHAN - Various poor farmers alleged that the Agriculture Department wanted to shift the fruit and vegetable market to their land at Malikpur, Shahbazpur Road so as to benefit the local parliamentarians and influential farmers.

PML-N city president Aamir Shahbaz accompanied by the affected farmers of Malikpur in a press conference said that in April, the plan was prepared for the new market and approved at district level in August 2007. Later, it was confirmed by provincial government in October 2007 and it was decided that a 115 kanal and 9 marla land of Basti Malikpur in Mauza Kot Kamon Shah at Shahbazpur would be purchased, he detailed.

“On October 13, 2008, through a letter number 1563, very low price of Rs1 million per acre for the land owned by 52 poor farmers was fixed. Earlier, the project was stopped for years but in 2016 it was again activated by the persons interested in it. Now, after 10 years, the proposed rate of 2006 is being finalised to give the farmers, the farmers regretted,” the poor farmers said.

They added that small farmers of Maalikpur had filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court’s Bahawalpur Bench and the court ordered Commissioner Zafar Saqib to resolve the issue of the farmers.

The Commissioner wrote a letter to DCO Rahim Yar Khan that the project was being established 10 kilometres away from the city which is not justified so search for new land, and he also suggested that Mela Ground land at Abu Dahbi Road better for it. But DCO office replied that it had released award.

they said after the failed experience of shifting general bus stand and model grain market to Shahbazpur Road, the influential politicians want to shift the market to the same road which was already overcrowded with traffic.

They said if the plan is implemented, there will be the issues of security because wall of Bahadur Cantt is present at the back side of the village Malikpur and there are two main water courses which irrigate more than 150 acres of agriculture land that will turn barren.

The PML-N city president said that that he had met with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and discussed the matter but the influential politicians pressurised the officers to write a letter to the provincial head saying that these small farmers want to create hurdles in the CM’s development programme.

He regretted that the 115 kanal 9 marla valuable land was being purchased only at Rs18.3 million while the current price of the land is more than Rs300 million. Haji Rasheed and Numbardar Sardar Muhammad, the representatives of affected small farmers told the journalists that owner of a cold storage Haji Farooq and president of old market and councillor Chaudhry Ameen want to the shifting of fruit market at their land because Farooq had already purchased four acres of land adjacent to their land proposed for the new market.

They alleged that the elder brother of MNA Ibrahim was behind the scene as he wanted to take the land where the fruit market is presently situated on 99-year lease. They further said that the DC has advised them to file a writ petition to get the actual price of their land after handing over it for the project.

When contacted, the elder brother of MNA Ibrahim denied the allegations and said that he was not interested in getting the market land.