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Half-hearted efforts to reclaim state land

ISLAMABAD, April 3: The drive launched by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on the directive of the Supreme Court to reclaim 20,000 acres of state land now in illegal occupation is going nowhere.

Lack of coordination between the CDA’s two wings – estate and planning – is said to be the main reason behind the drive’s failure.

Officials say the CDA started the drive without realising that it had not paid compensation to the original landholders.

“The estate management wing has not paid compensation to landholders in different areas and dormant residential sectors. They resist when the staff of the planning wing go to them to take possession of the land,” said director general planning, Sarwar Sandhu.

“We are facing an embarrassing situation. When we send our enforcement or anti-encroachment teams for acquiring land, the landholders complain that they have not received cash and other compensation due to them against their lands.”

Still, the official claimed that the CDA had taken possession of some 12,000 acres of land in different areas of the capital, calling it ‘a good achievement’.

A CDA source said most of the land acquired by the CDA during the current drive was ‘agricultural’ and no ‘concrete structures’ was built there. “It is easy to get possession of open and free-of-encumbrance land,” the source said, adding that the hard task was to reclaim the land where the people have built houses.

On February 4 this year, the Supreme Court gave the authority the gigantic task of reclaiming 20,000 acres state land, worth billions of rupees, which is said to be under illegal possession in different areas in Islamabad. The areas beset by encroachments where the CDA has so far not reached include sectors F-12, G-12, D-13, D-11, F-14 and some land in D-12.

Tahir Shamshad, CDA’s member planning, agreed about lack of coordination with the estate management wing. But as he has recently got the additional charge of member estate, he hoped “there will be no issue of lack of coordination” in the drive against encroachments and getting the land back.

The official said he was regularly checking the performance of enforcement directorate during the ‘land acquisition drive’. “We are now using software for daily updates on land possession,” he said.

A number of drives launched in the past against encroachers in the capital have fizzled out.

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