1.2m violations on agricultural lands since the Jan. 25 Revolution: MOA
YOUM7/Karim Abdelaziz

CAIRO: Violations on agricultural lands reached 1.2 million cases on 51,696 acres, according to the Ministry of Agriculture’s latest report, Youm7 reported Friday.

Violations on agricultural lands could include constructing buildings on them or causing soil to erode.

The report clarified that violations were removed from 8,409 acres which represent seven percent of the total amount of violations. The government failed to remove violations on 43,287 acres.

The report mentioned that Menoufia took the first rank in the number of violations which amounted to 154,000 cases.

Beheira came in the second rank with 138,000, while Qalyubia came in the third rank with the total of 101,000 cases.

The Ministry of Agriculture is coordinating with governors, Ministries of Local Development, Interior, Electricity and Housing to launch a crackdown on violations on agricultural lands.

The ministry also aims at forming committees from the related ministries to investigate with violations of officials involved in permitting violations to pass or installing facilities such as electricity and water for illegal buildings.

Minister of Agriculture Adel al-Beltagy suggested Thursday a new draft law to protect agricultural lands, El-Badil reported. Its articles include increasing punishments for violators to reach 5-year-imprisonment and a 200,000 EGP fine for each eroded acre, in addition to confiscating the equipment used in the violating process.

The draft law will wait until the new parliament is elected.

The agricultural expert Dr. Nader Nour Eddin described the new draft law as “extremely harsh”, justifying this by saying that agricultural lands are not very profitable. He said that the state should develop the farming profession and make it more profitable before setting such conditions.

Head of the Services and Planning Sector in the Ministry of Agriculture Hamdy Assi told Al-Masry Al-Youm early August that the ministry is studying a legislation to toughen the punishment of violating land and turn it from a misdemeanor to a felony.

Additional reporting by Ezz el-Nubi.

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