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`Illegal` transfer of 778-acre state land to housing society

LAHORE, March 12: Influential people not only illegally acquired federal government-owned over 778 acres of land worth billions from the Punjab revenue department, but also got it transferred in the name of Lahore Cantonment Park View Housing Society, allegedly in connivance with revenue officials and the tenants in 1991.

Sources say the land mafia comprising some former LCPVHS management members later sold the land in plots to a number of people on commercial rates, besides getting the Society merged into the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) in April 2007 just to get legal cover.

They say though the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Board of Revenue (BoR) launched a probe into the matter in October, 2010, on a complaint, an appropriate action against those involved in the scam was still awaited.

According to a report (No 1360/HVC) filed on Oct 29, 2010, titled “Complaint verification against ex-management of LCPVHS”, prepared and signed by Lahores revenue district officer (DOR) in response to a NAB Punjabs letter (No(61)1W-1/(C)/675/NAB-P) written on Oct 20, 2010, the transferred state land was situated in Mauza Shivpura Kalan in Cantonment tehsil of Lahore district.

The report says that according to the land ownership record (Register Haqdaran-i-Zameen) for the year 1997-98 the village (Mauza Shivpura) comprised total 3,784 kanals and eight-marla land out of which the federal government owned 1,533 kanal and two marlas, including 893 kanals and three marlas being cultivated by the tenants.

It says the entire land of the Shivpura village also included Punjab governments 25-kanal and 16 marlas, privately owned 2,139-kanal and five marlas, while the remaining 86 kanals were for the collective use of the villages population.

The report reads that as per award No 3 dated May 27, 1990, (a document under which the revenue department awarded the land in question to the LCPVHS), the total village land was first shown 1,042 kanals and four marlas and then verified as 1,034 kanals and eight marlas that included Punjab governments 14 marlas, federal governments 850 kanals and 15 marlas cultivated by the tenants under Dakheelkari (Tenant) scheme.

It further says the then general assistant (revenue) to the deputy commissioner awarded not only the federal governments 778 kanals and 13 marlas but also gave the Punjab governments 14 marlas to the LCPVHS. The land was later formally transferred to the LCPVHS under transfer deed (Intiqal) No 161, approved on May 14, 1991.

“The land in question, transferred under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act-1894 to LCPVHS was an illegal act because the tenants cultivating the land were not the owners of the state land,” the report added.

According to the award documents, the LCPVHS acquired the land for Rs24,671 per kanal, in addition to payment of 25 per cent of the total land price as acquisition charges.

The documents say the LCPVHS started efforts to acquire the land by writing a letter to the Lahore commissioner on Aug 20, 1989, after its more than 2,000 members expressed their keenness to have a housing society.

Interestingly, the LCPVHS, according to award documents, acquired total 2,533 kanals and four marlas from the private owners of Shivpura and Malikpur villages through the revenue department under the Land Acquisition Act for developing a housing scheme. During scrutiny of the land, the revenue department showed only 345 kanals and three marlas owned by the federal government in Shivpura village. However, the officials excluded the said piece of land from the acquisition process at a later stage as mentioned in the award papers.

But, the DOR, in his report, revealed transfer of the central governments land measuring over 778 kanals and Punjab governments 14 marlas to LCPVHS.

When contacted, DOR Zulifqar Ghuman told Dawn actually the land measuring over 778 kanals was owned by the provincial government but the entry in the revenue record showed it belonged to the federal government.

“After the partition (of the sub-continent) the properties vacated by the Sikhs and the Hindus were first entered in the revenue record as federal government assets. But, later such properties were transferred to the provinces where these existed,” he clarified.

He said though he, in his report, had also written the land in-question as central government land but it was actually owned by the Punjab government now.

“After probing the issue, we have come to know that the land was transferred to LCPVHS wrongly. That is why we have recently written a letter to the DHA Lahore to pay the cost of the land to the Punjab government,” he added.

Repeated attempts by this reporter to contact DHA Lahore spokesman Mr Tajamal for the authority`s version on the issue failed to elicit any response.

None of the LCPVHS ex-management officials was available for comments.

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