In a fact-finding report released earlier, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious concerns as to the environmental as well as human rights implications of the much-vaunted Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RUDP)
Lahore (Pakistan Point News - 08th April, 2021) In a fact-finding report released earlier, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed serious concerns as to the environmental as well as human rights implications of the much-vaunted Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project (RUDP).
Based on consultations with civil society, including environmental activists and experts, and field visits to several villages affected by the land acquisition being carried out under the project, HRCP has reason to conclude that—contrary to the Punjab government’s claims—the RUDP will neither help provide affordable housing to the needy nor protect the local environment. In fact, the project is likely to render homeless hundreds of poor farmers and their families who rely on agricultural production to survive. The opaque nature of the project, and the fact that it has involved top-down decision making, has rightly been criticized by civil society and environmental experts alike.
In addition, the project’s environmental impact assessment (EIA) is flawed on numerous counts, not least of which are poor levels of stakeholder consultation, vague commitments on how noise, water and air pollution levels will be controlled, and lack of attention to cheaper alternatives to cleaning the water body.
The report states that the Ravi Urban Development Authority has completely disregarded the human cost of its project to local farmers and failed to present sustainable alternatives to their relocation and loss of livelihood. Instead of ensuring greater inclusiveness by involving locals, the government is attempting to strongarm farmers into selling their lands by involving the army-run Frontier Works Organization in development work and deploying police to the area as a harassment tool. Many of these concerns have not, moreover, received the media attention they clearly warrant.
HRCP demands that all development work in the area be halted, including land acquisition, until the project’s EIA is revised, with input from all stakeholders—including landowners—and compensation issues settled satisfactorily. Importantly, no forcible occupation of land should take place and no pressure tactics employed to buy land.