ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan has written a letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, asking him to turn down a summary sent by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for converting the headquarters of National Agriculture Research Council (Narc) into a real estate project.
“The food minister wrote the letter last week in which he highlighted the importance of the prime agriculture research centre and its possible disintegration if converted into a housing society,” said a senior officer in the Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc).
The minister asked the premier to look into the issue immediately and save the premises of Narc, which has been actively working for national food security for the last 30 years.
Read: Narc property: Scientists oppose turning land into housing society
He pointed out that the country’s agriculture sector was already facing serious climatic threats and such steps would have disastrous implications for the national food security. “It is due to this institute that we have surplus stocks of wheat, rice, sugar and other farm produce.”
The Parc official voiced the hope that the prime minister, after his return from overseas trip, would consider the request. The National Assembly Standing Committee on Food Security and Research has also called a special meeting on July 14 with a one-point agenda to discuss the issue.
Last month, the CDA prepared a summary and suggested that it could launch a housing scheme on the piece of land in Chak Shahzad Islamabad, where Narc had established its headquarters in 1984 after acquiring it on lease from the CDA. The civic authority is reluctant to extend the lease or allot the land to the research institute.
Narc is the largest research centre of Parc and its research infrastructure has been developed over 40 years at a cost of Rs108 billion.
The rebuilding of a similar research centre will prove to be a Herculean task and looks quite difficult in the face of financial crunch.
Read: Housing colony gets go-ahead at cost of agri research
“The CDA has planned to generate revenue worth Rs150 billion from the 1,250 acres of Narc land, whereas the impact of losing the research institute will be around Rs3,919 billion,” remarked Narc Chairman Dr Iftikhar Ahmed.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2015.
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