Egypt’s interim government has demolished 120,000 unlicensed structures that were built on 7,000 feddans* since the 25 January uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, the agriculture ministry announced in a statement on Thursday.
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, the statement added.
A nationwide crackdown on unlicensed buildings was launched last month by the ministries of agriculture and the interior along with local authorities in the targeted areas.
The most affected governorates are Monoufiya, Beheira, Gharbiya and Qalioubiya. Fewer cases have been reported in the governorates of North Sinai, New Valley, Matrouh and Suez.
According to estimates made last year by a former high-ranking ministry official, violations before the 2011 revolution led to an average loss of 20,000 feddans per year.
Agriculture Minister Ayman Abu Hadid affirmed in the statement that amendments should be approved soon regarding the country's agricultural law to impose stricter penalties on those who build illegal settlements on agricultural land.
The amendments will impose a jail sentence of at least one month and fines from LE50,000 up to LE100,000 for all involved parties.
*The feddan is a unit of area used in Egypt, Sudan and Syria. 1 feddan = 1.038 acres