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LAHORE: Special Assistant to Chief Minister (SACM) Punjab for Information Hasaan Khawar has said that the Punjab government has retrieved, so far, 180,000 acres of state land; the relinquished land would be handed over to the concerned departments and would be used for projects of public welfare.

“Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has directed for the retrieval of the remaining 35,000 acres in the next five weeks,” said the Punjab government’s spokesperson while addressing a press conference here on Saturday. He observed that unfortunately state land in Pakistan has always been considered the easiest prey by the ‘qabza’ mafia. “Due to this, some 223,000 acre of state land worth Rs 472 billion, belonging to the forest, revenue, auqaaf and other departments, was brazenly encroached upon; of this, 7,000 acres were in urban and about 216,000 were in rural areas,” he added.

He further said that encroachment upon government lands was not possible without the connivance of sitting government, government officials and the qabza mafia. “A forensic audit of fires in the previous government will prove this point. These 223,000 cases of encroachment were in fact receipts of the incompetence of the previous government,” he added.

According to him, in a short span of three years, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has effectively demonstrated that grit is the only requirement to ensure effective implementation of the system. Responding to a question, he said that although 43 people from the identified qabza mafia have been cabinet and assembly members of the previous government, it was not correct to call the action against the occupation groups as political revenge. “These measures are purely aimed at establishing the writ of the state. For the first time in the history of the country, a record of encroachments on government lands was being compiled. In addition, government officials found to be involved with the occupation groups, if found guilty, will be prosecuted,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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