Founding Editor: Shafqat Munir   

Bitter Truth 

27 Augustus 2011 01:10:29

Bitter Truth

Land mafia more powerful than state

CJ should take notice of land grabbing as violation of article 23

Shafqat Munir

What to talk of miseries of people at the hands of land grabbers and mafia, successive federal governments have been paying land grabbers almost 5.5% of PSDP to acquire even the state land for development projects, reveals Planning and Development Division data.

Scanning of the documents by INFN further reveals that this slippage of national resources is part of an overall leakage of 37.5% of the total PSDP allocation. Of this, 4.6% goes to direct corruption payment. Land grabbers/mafia operates across the country and runs a parallel system of land acquisition and deprives citizens of their constitutional right to own or take into possession even their own property. Land and Revenue department officials collaborate with land grabbers for money.

Mr Rafiq Thaheem, a Habib Bank official, owns a kanal of land near airport colony in Rawalpindi. He went posts and pillars but could not get acquisition of his own land from illegal occupation of land grabbers of this area.

“Every citizen including the Chief Justice of Pakistan speak of rule of law but rule of law do not exist in this country as there is ‘rule of land grabbers’ who snatch your hard earned money at gun point. I was disappointed when I approached the patwari (Land and Revenue department official) of the area where I own a plot, who despite acknowledging my ownership of the plot declined to mark the plot and perform his official duty getting acquisition of my plot. He suggested that I should go to any politically influential person if I want my plot to be released from land grabbers of the airport and adjoining areas,” said Mr Thaheem.

Thousands of the poor are waiting to acquire their properties for which they had paid money and want to enjoy their right under article 23 of the constitution to acquire, hold and dispose of property but unfortunately they cannot because they have to face inhuman treatment, threats to their life and kidnapping of their children or any other pressure tactics by the land grabbers.

“Perhaps land grabbers take it as granted that while the governments used to pay settlement amounts to land grabbers to get the land vacated from their illegal occupation, then why not the common people pay such amounts. They say, no doubt, land in papers and documents is in owners’ name but in actual, this is not their land until it is in illegal occupation of the land grabbers. They demand money for vacating the land knowing that court procedures are too lengthy and police and other mechanism is on their payroll or in their influence, and the owners would have to pay if they want an early settlement,” said Thaheem.

Mr Thaheem has appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the land grabbing issue and dispense justice to those whose lands are illegally grabbed to ensure rule of law in the country.

“Land grabbers are cunning and have their influence in political circles and establishment. Whenever government approves any development scheme on a government or private land, land grabbers illegally occupy the same land and when survey is done to start the project, reports find that the land is already in occupation of land grabbers and then through middle agents the settlement for release of such land is made. This is one of major reasons of cost escalation of development projects,” admitted a senior government official on condition of anonymity.