Land grabbing: Influence wins over the law yet again

Author­ities claim ignora­nce over land grabbi­ng, insist on ‘identi­fying the proble­m’.


Azam Khan May 09, 2011

RAWALPINDI:


Land grabbers have once again mocked the law and infringed upon the land allocated for educational institutions, health facilities and gardens in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, The Express Tribune has learnt.


They have succeeded in expanding their land grabbing activities to the historic Gordon College, Government Postgraduate College Asghar Mall, Postgraduate Commerce College Phagwari, Satellite Town, high and middle schools at Khayaban-i-Sir Syed, Muslim School and Islamia School No-1 Murree Road, Ziaul Uloom, Raja Bazaar, and Shimla High School Bagh-i-Sardaran, Chongi No-4 near Namakmandi.

Many other public schools are being run in dilapidated buildings. The heads of these institutes have written to higher authorities time and again for the retrieval of the precious land and furnishing of the buildings but to no avail.

According to sources inside the Rawalpindi Commissioner Office, the City District Government has been unable to take action against these politically-backed land grabbers. Amjad Nawaz Toor, principal of Government Postgraduate Commerce College Satellite Town told The Express Tribune that the college buildings have been constructed on six kanals, while 20 kanals have been grabbed by influential people of the area.

He complained that the provincial government was not cooperating to retrieve the college land. He said that he, along with students, approached Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) member of the National Assembly (MNA) Malik Shakeel Awan and member of the Punjab Assembly (MPA) Ziaullah Shah who pledged to allocate additional five kanals for the premises, a few miles away from the existing college building.

The college is the only postgraduate institution in Rawalpindi Division. At present, more than 1,000 students, including girls are studying at the college. This reporter approached Rawalpindi Commissioner Zahid Saeed thrice for his comment on the issue, but each time he showed unawareness about it and sought some time to identify the problem. However, he admitted that there were some issues pending in the courts regarding the occupation of educational institutions such as Gordon College.

The principal of Gordon College, when contacted, said that he was currently pursuing six cases that are pending with the courts. He too complained about the apathetic conduct of the local administration in this regard.

A neighbour of a PPP spokesperson demolished the boundary walls of Government Middle School at Khayaban-i-Sir Syed and restricted the school administration to use only one corner of the school ground. The school’s headmaster said that the land grabbing also made the school children feel insecure and vulnerable.

Fateh Rahat, a teacher at the school, told The Express Tribune that the area’s influential clan had forbid them for constructing a safety wall, despite the court verdict being in the school’s favour. “The government is to be blamed for delaying the construction of the wall,” another teacher said. According to the headmaster, about Rs0.5 million are required to construct the boundary wall but the school’s funds are very limited.

Similarly, the administration of Government High School Khayaban-i-Sir Syed has been fighting for taking back of school land since 1979. The school’s headmaster is weary of fighting alone with the influential land grabbers. He said that he, along with the school’s senior teachers, repeatedly made requests to various authorities and public representatives but in vain.

By amending the master plan, housing department officials constructed expensive residences over five kanals of the school’s land. The house of Director General Housing has also been constructed inside the school. The generous officials of the department also allocated 10 marlas of the land to a businessman who has constructed a commercial plaza there. An illegal mosque has also been constructed on the school land.

On the complaint of the locals of Khayaban-i-Sir Syed, the Anti-Corruption department registered a first information report (FIR) against some officials of the housing department, who facilitated and colluded with the land grabbers. The names of the land grabbers were also included in the FIR but with the collaboration of some Town Municipal Administration officials, the grabbers succeeded in getting the degree issued in their favour, as far as a five kanal piece of land for the health centre and land for the garden area is concerned.

Contrary to the fact, the provincial government every now and then claims of providing health and education facilities to the people. According to a press statement issued by Punjab Information Department on Saturday, the Punjab Chief Minister’s adviser, Raja Muhammad Ashfaq Sarwar, insists that “the government was taking concrete steps under a comprehensive strategy to enhance and provide health and education facilitates in the province”.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 9th, 2011.

COMMENTS (1)

ali | 10 years ago | Reply so true.... army personals plus political thugs plus police results in land mafia who is going to voice their opinion against them ...
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