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LAHORE: The Punjab government has retrieved 180,581 acres of illegally occupied state land with a total value of Rs 462.52 billion, said sources from both the Board of Revenue (BoR) as well as Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA).

The Punjab government had initiated the process of retrieving illegally occupied state land under a policy finalized in 2019. Under the policy, it was decided as a matter of principle to retrieve all the state lands in the province. Accordingly, an indiscriminate operation was carried out and a number of politicians, particularly those from the Pakistan Muslim League-N, were found in illegal possession of such state lands.

Talking to this scribe, Additional Director General PDMA Tariq Masood Farooqa said the provincial government has taken a policy decision of utilization of retrieved state lands solely for public purposes. As a priority, he said, the provincial government would allot all such lands for hospitals, educational institutions and offices of various departments as and when required.

Every state land that could be utilized for a 'useful purpose' would not be handed over to private person from now onwards. However, the out of reach pieces of state lands would be auctioned to private persons, he added.

According to the Additional DG, only those state lands have been left abandoned, which could not be retrieved in any case. While quoting an example, he said, a two canal state land was occupied by private persons in the area of Sargodha and developed a fish farm around it while utilizing his private land. It is now impossible for the district management to get retrieved this piece of land, therefore, it is still in possession of the same person.

Meanwhile, Secretary Colonies at the BOR confirmed that a number of private persons were approaching to the Board for allotment of the state land retrieved under 2019 policy. He said a number of visitors from all across the province reach to the Board with a purpose to know as how they can get state lands allotted. "We have written to all the Deputy Commissioners that only those state lands would be offered to private persons, which cannot be utilized for public purpose. However, he made it clear that all such lands would be offered to private citizens through auction.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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