Pakistan is actually a blessing for us. It contains everything that is require for the development of a country but we are in developing countries. Allah Almighty bless Pakistan with vast fertile land, flowing rivers, coastal areas, and mountains which are rich in mineral wealth. We have five seasons. It means Allah Almighty give us everything but we are going in decline why? It is due to that we are destroying our resources.
As we know that about two third of its population primarily depends on Agricultural activities for their livelihood. When Pakistan was came into exist about 26mhac was for cultivation, but nowadays it is reduced to 20mhac out of 76.9mhac. An estimated 55 percent of our population live on very fragile land that are prone to desertification.
Pakistan’s population is increasing day by day but we have less land holding so we have to adopt vertical approach (increase yield per unit area) in order to meet our needs. On the other hand Pakistan is predominantly a dry land country our most of the areas are arid areas. Our main concern is to save our agricultural and productive lands and save water. But we are destroying these two resources.
Land is the most important resource but we do not have any law for land use. Our fertile lands were replaced by many housing schemes. That have no serious use. As many housing schemes have hardly 10 percent developed plots and remaining vacant? Assuredly it is wastage of resources. Many of these societies lack public amenities and infrastructure but occupy productive and fertile lands. For example “expandng Lahore” due to making of rapid housing schemes around Lahore is actually occupying fertile land mass and diminishing agriculture from that areas. The green belts that are present around Lahore, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, and Multan have vanished due to these colonies. Until 1990s these belts were the main source of fresh vegetables and its cost is also cheap. But nowadays prices of vegetables are increasing because markets are in cities and growers have to extra pay for transport charges. And densely populated cities also have food security concerns.
In addition to reducing land and farming practices thousands of trees have been cut for the accommodation of housing societies in the suburbs of many cities. This negligence cause many social and environmental problems such as increase in air and water population, rise in street temperature, and less immunity of children from UV rays. We need to take a prompt action on land use policy making in order to overcome these problems. Unfortunately, no land use plan exist either at national, provincial district or at local levels. . Have tens of housing societies around Lahore been approved after checking the fertility status as it is suitable for agriculture or not? Absolutely not. Main barrier for proper system of land use planning are; insufficient data on current land usage, and natural resources and their utilization trends, scattered, information across many institutions and unavailability of researchers, no planning and policy makers and lack of supporting legislation.
After land resources important factor is water that is actually fuel for agriculture because without water there will be no agriculture.
It is estimated that about 70 percent of Pakistanis depend on ground water for their basic and agricultural needs.
Rapid development of housing schemes around major cities resulted in lowering of groundwater levels, As in Lahore this is an alarming situation for the future of this mega city that the water level has gone very down. Couple of decades ago water table level of Lahore was 4.5 meter but nowadays it is more than 40 meter. The main reason of it is excessive pumping compared to recharge to aquifer due to hard concrete cover by infrastructural development that is making land impermeable for recharging ground water. Another reason of low water of Ravi is construction of Thein dam upstream of Madhopur headworks India in 2000. So due to it Ravi remain dry except in monsoon season. So its low water cause decline in groundwater level I adjoining areas of Ravi.
Trend towards urbanization is increasing so small private wells and tanks are not feasible within high density urban areas. Urbanization requires significant amount of infrastructures that can meet the needs of population. Urban people depends on ground water even few decades ago water table in Faisalabad was 6 meter but now it is 25 meter.
Pakistan requires comprehensive and integrated approach for land use planning and for implementation of these policies. The purpose of land use planning is to use the land in an efficient and ethical way to minimize the brutal impacts on its exploitation. Positive impacts of land utilization: on economy and poverty,eradication and sustained economic growth of our country. Because these policies will helps us to save our main two resources so ultimately our agriculture will flourish.
Authours: Farwa Shehzadi, Muneeba, Bakhtawer zafar, Muhammad usman tahir from University of Agriculture Faisalabad Pakistan.