LAHORE - Revenue Department of City District Government Lahore has acquired as many as 4,000 kanals of land of 50 villages for proposed River Ravi Development Project on its both sides and in this regard a notification has been issued by the authorities, it is learnt.

According to notification, main objective of the acquisition of land by the government is to develop a number of projects including development of a number of high quality residential schemes and colonies, educational institutes including colleges and universities, markets, trade centers, high rise plazas on the acquired land of District Lahore and Sheikhupura, situated at both sides of the River Ravi, which was planned to be turned into a lake. Sources in LDA told that the government is planning to acquire more land for the proposed project step by step in coming months and the project is likely to be completed in four to five years as per the desire of the Punjab Chief Minister.

Earlier, the previous governments also announced a number of projects including a ‘Sports City’, proposed by the then Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi with the cooperation of UAE government and Dubai-based construction firms and such project later was postponed for indefinite period after the land owners challenged the acquisition of land in the court of law. Another project was also announced by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif during his previous tenure, which was named as ‘Ravi National Park’ and that project also was postponed by government due to uncertain reasons after completing different surveys and making maps for various projects.

But, the CDGL a couple of years back, issued a notification under the Environment Protection Act, which banned all kind of construction in such areas including construction of housing colonies, factories and industrial units except the construction of farms such as dairy, poultry, goat and other farms besides using the land for agriculture purpose.

The government targeted the land which was owned by the residents of over 64 villages of both districts of Lahore and Sheikhupura, situated along with the River Ravi starting from Saifen at BRB Canal to Sundar State at Multan Road. The proposed plan earlier was named by the provincial government as Lake City while signing MoU with a Chinese firm for development of such project and that firm was planning to invest billions of dollars. Later, the project was re-named as River Ravi Development Project by the provincial government.

Earlier, the provincial government assigned task to Lahore Development Authority and constituted a committee headed by the Chairman Ring Road Authority and comprising members of Works and Communication Department, Planning and Development Department, Housing Department, Revenue Department, CDGL, LDA, TEPA, PHA, Wasa and other departments for completing the proposed project.

The sources told that all the departments concerned are working on the project and acquiring land for the proposed project but without consulting the worried stakeholders, owners of the land and factories about their future and they still are not being told any thing at any stage by the government. The residents, owners of factories, farms and agriculture land have appealed the government to think about the future of over a million people residing in such villages, demanding the government for reasonable compensation against their acquired land otherwise they would stage protest against government. The local farmers are of the view that 80 per cent of project marked land is already supplying vegetables and fodder for animals to Lahore city and when this proposed project would be completed, the Lahoritis have to procure vegetables and fodders from the outskirts of Lahore, they added.