AROUND 800 plot owners in Sabzazar Scheme have been made a shuttlecock between the Irrigation department and Lahore Development Authority for transfer letters of their land because of red tape and departmental infighting.
According to details, the LDA had taken over the land from the owners in Sabzazar Scheme in 1981 with the objective of constructing a dyke at the Ravi with the help of Irrigation department. The land was acquired on the prevalent plots policy and with the promise of allotting them alternative plots in lieu of their land used by government. The new plots were identified and handed over to the owners but the LDA authorities withheld its transfer to them. After an inordinate delay of 25 years, the previous provincial government constituted a committee with Planning and Development chairman as its head and secretaries of Finance, Housing, Irrigation and LDA director general as its members. The committee held its meeting and gave its decision in the favour of plot owners, maintaining that they should be transferred the land concerned. Afterwards, the LDA, on the instruction of provincial government, moved the files of the land to the National Accountability Bureau twice for clearance. The NAB also cleared the land for its transfer to the owners.
Nevertheless, the LDA authorities did not bother to transfer the plots to their owners on one pretext or the other while the plot owners had always moving between the Irrigation Department and LDA. Nobody ever bothered to implement the decision of the committee or look into the NAB report. The incumbent DCO, Ahad Cheema, had also directed for initiating the case back from the square one which had enhanced the miseries of the owners.
It is worth mentioning that the LDA had cleared four plots belonging to a high official in the Board of Revenue but it had denied clearing the remaining plots. Many of the plot owners informed The News that the respective director generals of LDA had held meetings with the owners of the plots and assured them that their lands would be transferred to them as the Irrigation department had nothing to do with it. But when it cane to taking the final decision, they did nothing practical. The affectees alleged that the LDA authorities used to demand money for transferring their plots and after they greased their palms, they had been reluctant in transferring the land.
Sources claimed that the incumbent chairman of the LDA, who is also DCO Lahore, held a meeting in this regard on August 15. The LDA authorities had prepared worksheet and presented it before DCO Ahad Cheema but no decision could be taken on it. They appealed to the Punjab chief minister, chief secretary and chief justice of Supreme Court to look into the matter directing to the departments concerned to transfer of their plots without any delay.
DCO Lahore Ahad Cheema, talking with The News, a committee had been constituted which had been working on the issue. He claimed that it was a complicated issue and they were also negotiating with Irrigation department as well as the original land owners and other claimants.