Egypt's ministries have agreed on the final version of a draft law protecting the country's arable lands against violation, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.
Following a meeting between the ministers of agriculture and local development, building on green lands will be considered an honour crime, which deprives convicted offenders from practicing their political rights or joining the state's cooperatives.
The two ministers approved legal sanctions for those who raze just one feddan* of land, with the penalty consisting of five years in jail, a fine starting from LE200,000 and confiscation of the building equipment used to violate the land, according to the ministry's statement.
Under the draft law, the agriculture minister will be authorised to stop all forms of state subsidies from going to the violators.
However, the recent draft law – yet to be approved by the cabinet – exempts those whose construction work on arable land is aimed to improve the land or livestock.
In April, Egypt's interim government stated that it had demolished 120,000 unlicensed structures that were built on 7,000 feddans since the 25 January 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
According to the official statistics, there have been a whopping 1.2 million cases of violations on arable land in the last three years, leading to the loss of 47,000 feddans
In November 2013, minister of agriculture Ayman Abu Hadid stated that the government would impose a LE500,000 ($70,000) fine and a three-year jail sentence on all parties involved in building on agricultural land.
*The feddan is a unit of area used in Egypt, Sudan and Syria. 1 feddan = 1.038 acres