For the first time in the country, the role of multiple departments in land ownership registration across Punjab will be abolished and the process will be brought under one system.
The revenue department will introduce a digitised system under which ownership certificates will be issued to all land owners.
The project will start from Lahore and then be implemented in the Faisalabad, Multan, Gujranwala and Rawalpindi districts in the second phase. In the third phase, it will be expanded to the other districts of the province.
The revenue department is working on projects for digitalisation in collaboration with the World Bank.
The record of all government land across the province is being collected. For the implementation of the new system, a Punjab Land Bank is being set up, while the federal government is setting up an asset management company.
The land data from all provinces will be sent to the federal government.
The Punjab government has started work on sending the record of government land to the federal authorities.
About 10 departments including revenue, excise and cooperatives have the land ownership and revenue record. People have to visit their offices to buy and sell land. The policies and laws of the departments are different.
In collaboration with the World Bank, the system is being introduced under the Punjab Revenue Department after checking the ownership record in all the related departments. A survey has been started as part of preparations to introduce the system of issuing land ownership certificates from one department.
The pilot project will start from Lahore where the record will be digitised and consolidated.
However, the revenue department’s project to computerise the village records has not been completed despite the passage of two and a half years. More than 60% of rural areas are are yet to come under the system.
Similarly, a project to bring private and cooperative societies under the purview of the government has not started yet. This is costing the exchequer billions of rupees annually in terms of revenue in addition to leaving the people exposed to the risk of fraud.
So far, the revenue department has not been able to ensure access to the record of private housing schemes. The department had announced the opening 115 new land centres to provide facilities to the people of the province. However, more than 25% of the work could not be done.
The procedure for recruitment of about 3,500 Patwaris is being worked out. Work is also under way to provide the facility at the embassies abroad of checking the land record. The project is expected to be launched during the current year.
Meanwhile, the department has got more than 140,000 acres of land vacated from illegal occupiers during the tenure of the current government.
However, a strategy has not been prepared so far to protect the retrieved land from encroachment and occupation in future.
The estimated value of the retrieved land is more than Rs1 trillion.
Provincial Revenue Minister Malik Mohammad Anwar told The Express Tribune that several projects are being implemented through the collaboration of the World Bank and the Punjab government. The digitised revenue system will be launched this year, he added.
The ownership certificates will be issued in five districts of Punjab, including Lahore. He said the revenue record is being provided at the country’s embassies abroad to save the owners from land mafia and encourage overseas Pakistanis to invest in the country.
The minister said the coronavirus pandemic had affected other projects, including the establishment of land centres, but work on them was now under way in full swing. Targets have been given to the officers concerned. He said over 80% record of the villages had been computerised.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 10th, 2021.
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