LAHORE: Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) on Saturday said it has recovered around 36 kanals of government land in Sahiwal illegally occupied by the Ittefaq Sugar Mills, a factory owned by the family of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, for the last 37 years.
The revenue department has estimated the value of the land at Rs22.5 million.
ACE Sahiwal Regional Director Shafaqat Ullah told The Express Tribune that contrary to the traditional method of waiting for a complaint to be filed before the anti-graft body took action, they used different sources to identify illegally occupied lands on the orders of the new ACE chief Gohar Nafees.
A few days back, he added, the ACE was informed by a source that the Ittefaq Sugar Mills was illegally possessing 36 kanals of government land since 1982.
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He assigned the ACE Pakpattan circle officer to examine the records of the revenue department and took up the matter with the Pakpattan assistant commissioner and the revenue field staff.
The information was verified after a thorough examination of the records.
Later, Pakpattan assistant commissioner ordered that state land be vacated under Sections 32 and 34 of the Colonisation Act on September 28.
On Saturday, a team comprising ACE, revenue department and police officials went to the site and found that 16 kanals of the occupied land was vacant but stores and a laboratory had been built on the remaining 20 kanals.
However, they were partially demolished because the mills had been shifted to Rahim Yar Khan.
The occupants were unable to present any document including a stay order to justify their possession of the land, which was later handed over to the revenue department. “It is also worth mentioning that no rent has been paid since 1982 and that amount would be in billions,” Shafaqat Ullah added.
The location of the mills is very important as it is situated on Pakpattan Road in Sahiwal.
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“I have ordered an inquiry into why the revenue department remained silent over this illegal possession of land and why there was no assessment of the lagan and its payment,” he added. The official further said the recovery of the land was part of the ACE’s crackdown on land grabbers in Sahiwal.
A few days ago, the ACE Sahiwal recovered a public park occupied by land grabbers. The land measuring six kanals and 11 marlas is valued at Rs327.5 million. The land was designated for Kanaan Park in Sahiwal. However, land grabbers were illegally using it as a private taxi stand.
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