Forest land leased out at throwaway rate: minister

Junejo claims only two of 12 cane commissioner inspectors' vacancies filled


Our Correspondent July 17, 2018
Forest land leased out at throwaway rate. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS/FILE

HYDERABAD: Opponents of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have continually accused the party of leasing out forest land in the province at throwaway prices. A minister in the caretaker setup endorsed such accusations on Monday by verifying the flawed leasing of forest land during the tenure of the last provincial government led by PPP.

"The forest land has been leased out at the rate of Rs3,500 per acre but the market rate of this land is around Rs20,000 per acre," said Khair Muhammad Junejo, who holds portfolios of agriculture, forests, fisheries and other departments in the caretaker cabinet. He was addressing a press conference in Hyderabad.

The minister also informed the media that around 104,000 acres of the forest department's land was under illegal occupation while another 150,000 acres had been leased out.

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"We are trying to address this problem in whatever little time we have [in the interim government]," he said.  Junejo lamented that land leased out under agro-forestry policy should have been used to plant trees in order to combat the effects of climate change, however, it was mostly being used for agricultural purposes.

Junejo also remarked that the agriculture extension department was overstaffed and most of its 4,200 staff members did not turn up for work. He also stated that only two inspectors were working in the office of the Sindh cane commissioner, which regulates sugar mills, whereas, against the 12 vacancies in the department.

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