Revise plan for Osakai Industrial Zone

Habib Ullah

Pakistan is an agricultural country but due to global environmental changes and inappropriate measures by our governments we are still importing many agricultural commodities. Due to incessant changes in the climate, various crops are less productive and the remaining friction has been completed by our poor administration. Our farmers are not provided with subsidized fertilizers, seeds, agricultural appliances, machinery and solar power to run their agricultural operations. They are also not provided with quality seeds which have resistance to diseases and harsh environmental conditions. Our farming is not research based and we do not analyze the soil to determine that for which crop the land is suitable and how much water should be provided to the crops. Our farmers are mostly illiterate and they do not know the modern methods of agriculture, suitable timing of irrigation and harvesting etc. If the government takes pragmatic steps to provide quality seeds, storage houses and educate the farmers through media so that the situation may become better and we will not only be self-sufficient but can also export the surplus agricultural products.

The above initiatives are not enough lonely, we should also protect our arable land and for this purpose necessary legislation is need of the day as due to global warming the environment has been changed enormously over the years. As a result, crop production has been plummeted up to a dangerous level. It is due to incessant drought and scarcity of timely rainfall. Furthermore, every seed needs optimum temperature for its germination, proper growth, development and fruit maturation. Because of unfavorable environmental conditions, the production has been reduced especially in the last two decades, therefore, the fertile land should be preserved on priority basis.

In spite of all these facts and barricades the agriculture land has been plummeted prodigiously in the recent decades. There are multiple reasons for it but the main factors are overpopulation, establishment of housing societies on agricultural land, construction of unsystematic buildings and the recent surge in industrialization. Due to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), many projects including special economic zones have been completed and many more are in pipeline.

Here, it is pertinent to mention that special economic zones required large pieces of land, therefore, these zones should be built on barren and less productive land. By doing so, we will get many advantages. Firstly, we will not only save our arable land but will also safeguard our farmers from unemployment which is a big problem for the present government. Secondly, we can also produce a number of crops on agricultural land which will be used as raw material for these industries.

Similarly, these zones should not be established in those areas which are tourist spots, because, it will destroy the natural beauty of the area. As the government and public are two wheels of the state, therefore, the sites for these zones should be selected by the consensus of the local people. Furthermore, these zones should be constructed away from population, because, the production of poisonous gases and particulate matter can cause many dangerous diseases in the locals. In addition, the sewerage system and declivity of the area should specifically be focused as drainage of the waste material is significantly required. If some of these conditions are arduous to be fulfilled, then the government should invite multinational organizations to install the latest technology to make less severe the numerous afflictions annexed with these industrial zones yet far away from the residential area and arable land.

Now let’s apply the above conditions on the establishment plan of Osakai Industrial Zone in tehsil Adenzai of district Lower Dir, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The concerned authorities must review the plan whether Osakai is an agricultural or barren land? Is Osakai included officially in the tourist spots or not? Is there any consensus among the local people, farmers and the government on the declared site? Is the zone far away from the residential area? Will the contaminants produced by the zone not pollute the surrounding area and drinking water?

If there is a question mark on the above conditions then the government should establish an expert committee comprising of environmentalists, engineers, tourism experts, local elders, journalists, social workers and development specialists. The committee should be empowered to nominate a location for the industrial zone impartially keeping in mind all the parameters mentioned earlier. Proceeding in this way we will double the employment opportunities for our already hopeless, destitute and unemployed youth and will also flourish the local tourism and farming, otherwise, we will hit our own foot with an axe. Furthermore, the people of the area also appeal the Prime Minister Imran Khan and the Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to visit the site of the industrial zone personally and then decide whether it is a fertile or barren land?

The writer is a Ph.D scholar at the Sun Yat-sen University, China. He can be contacted at:

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