The Lahore High Court (LHC) has ruled that the Ravi Urban Development Authority (RUDA) acted in violation of land acquisition laws, ordering the Authority to return loan money it had received from the government. Further development on the Ravi Urban Development Project (RUPD) stands halted.
“Agricultural land can be acquired only when there is a proper legal framework for it but the land for RUDP was acquired through a violation of Land Acquisition Act, 1894,” the court stated, pointing a finger at the government administrations in Lahore and Sheikhupura, as well.
The court declared Section 4 of the Ravi Urban Development Authority (amendment) Ordinance 2021 unlawful and unconstitutional. It further ruled that all schemes within the project must be included within its master plan, otherwise they would run counter to the law.
The RUDA has two months to return loan money it acquired from the government, as per the court order.
The court also ruled that environmental guidelines must be established for further development.
The RUDP is a controversial, $7 billion, riverfront urban development project which aimed to transform almost 50 kilometers along the banks of the Ravi River into a ‘high-quality urban development.’
Critics of the project said that it had been initiated without an environmental impact assessment, and would unfairly deprive farmers with live-sustaining agricultural land. Some alleged the project was a giant land-grabbing endeavor.