CAIRO: In a move aimed at preventing acts of encroachment on farmland, the Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Local Development will issue new laws to protect agricultural land and punish encroachers, Al-Borsa business daily reported Wednesday.
New sentences of 5-years imprisonment, and fines of more than 200,000 EGP ($27,962), will now be issued along with the confiscation of construction tools and equipment. Employees “who neglect their duties to protect land” can also be dismissed.
The law does not yet apply to land used for livestock, but Al-Borsa reported another law with similar penalties for encroachments on livestock land will be legislated soon.
Further, the new laws will consider land encroachments crimes of moral turpitude—an insult to community values—whose violators will be stripped of political rights.
Besides toughening punishments, Minister of Agriculture Ayman Abu Hadid and Minister of Local Development Adel Labib agreed on forming committees in each village made up of local politicians and community members to file reports, confiscate equipment and issue decisions for removing encroachments, Al-Borsa reported.
Land encroachment has become rampant since the January 25 Revolution amid an absence of security.
An inside source at the Ministry of Agriculture told Al-Shorouq June 9 that there have been 1.2 million encroachment cases since the January 25 Revolution involving some 47,000 acres. During May’s three-day presidential election alone there were 200,000 encroachment cases, the source said.
“Many cases of land encroachment were not officially reported to the judiciary,” the source said, pointing out that the Agriculture Ministry is working with the General Authority for Reconstruction Projects & Agricultural Development to facilitate aerial surveys to count all the cases.