September 19, 2023

SCN expresses concern over conversion of agricultural land to landfill

PESHAWAR, (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News – July 30, 2022): Sarhad Conservation Network, a non-governmental organization fighting for environmental, cultural and heritage conservation, has expressed strong reservations over an administration plan of Charsadda district to convert agricultural land into a dump.

SCN also welcomed the issuance of a stay order by the Peshawar High Court (PHC), preventing the district government from carrying out its plan citing Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act.

“The land proposed for the establishment of a dump site at Charsadda is famous for the cultivation of lotus root, a popular vegetable known locally as Nadru or Bursanda,” observed Dr. Adil Zarif, gatekeeper. SCN’s word in an interview with APP.

The conversion of land used for the cultivation of an important ingredient of local cuisine is not acceptable and even incomprehensible, said Dr Adil.

He said that landfill sites are developed on isolated sites and on land that is not used for agricultural purposes, whereas in this case, the district administration not only converts an agricultural land into a landfill site, but also rips away the livelihoods of local farmers who have been associated with the practice of lotus cultivation for generations.

He thanked PHC for issuing a stay order in the case and asked the court to issue an order to stop the district government from moving forward with its plan.

Auranzeb, journalist and member of SCN, shed light on the archaeological significance of lotus root cultivation for Charsadda district.

“Charsadda in history was called ‘Pushkalavati’ – literally the city of the lotus, in Sanskrit – it was the ancient capital of Gandhara,” Auranzeb mentioned.

“Replacing lotus ponds with landfills is like ruining the reputation of a sacred agricultural tradition rooted in the region’s history and heritage,” he remarked.

The lotus as we know is a revered flower in Buddhism but thousands of years since Rama’s brothers laid the foundations of Pushkalavati (Charsadda) as mentioned in the Ramayana, the tradition of lotus cultivation somehow survived and came down to us as a small but precious fragment of this illustrious story.

“Not only the SCN, but the archeology and tourism departments must take a stand against this act of ignorance and disregard for our historical heritage,” Aurangzeb added.

He also suggested serving tourists from Buddhist countries a meal of lotus stems from Charsadda, or taking home the dried lotus stem or flowers from a city that is none other than India as a souvenir. ancient capital of Gandhara.

“Lotus flower was a symbol of enlightenment and rebirth in Gandhara civilization, while Charsadda was known as Pushkulavati (Lotus City) in ancient times,” observed lawyer Ali Gohar Durrani who filed a case against the land conversion in the Peshawar High Court.

Speaking to APP, lawyer Ali Gohar said he informed the court about the archaeological significance of lotus cultivation and its connection to Charsadda.

The lawyer also argued that the local administration failed to realize that this was an agricultural area suitable for cultivation and that if it became a landfill, it would have serious environmental problems. , groundwater and people’s health.

The practice of lotus cultivation provides livelihood for locals who have been associated with the practice for generations and who will lose their source of income after a landfill is established at the site, he said. added.