Ashyana Housing Scheme: Punjab govt told to explain appropriation of darbar land

Advocate general says govt has started welfare projects in Baba Noor Shah’s name.


Express August 24, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has given officials four weeks to submit a comprehensive report on the evacuee trust land appropriated by the Punjab government for the Ashyana Housing Scheme.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry resumed hearing of Noor Shah’s petition, custodian of Noor Shah shrine, who had petitioned the court to halt construction activity on the land adjoining the darbar.

Advocate General Punjab Khawaja Harris informed the court that the provincial government has started welfare projects in the name of Baba Noor Shah and income from economic activity on the adjoining land will be deposited in Pir Noor Shah Welfare Fund. He said schools and hospitals would be set up in the Ashyana Housing Scheme. Harris apprised the court that the Auqaf department alone is authorised to retrieve darbar land from illegal occupants according to the Punjab property ordinance.

The court directed Harris to submit a comprehensive report on the darbar land held by illegal occupants and the action taken against them as well as the land that has thus far been recovered all over Punjab.

The court ordered authorities to evict illegal occupants from Noor Shah darbar. Counsel for Ashyana Housing Scheme Tariq Mehmood submitted before the court that income from adjoining land for the housing scheme is greater than Rs9 million. Additional funds from leasing out plots will also be spent on welfare projects. The court has adjourned the hearing for four weeks.

During the previous hearing, the Supreme Court had permitted the Punjab government to continue construction of housing units in the controversial Ashyana Housing Scheme without setting aside a stay order issued to halt construction.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th,  2011.

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