KARACHI: Building schemes have cropped up all along the Super Highway from Karachi to Hyderabad in what the Sindh government is calling the land mafia’s attempt to rope in unsuspecting bidders. The government has decided to crack down on them and remove encroachments.
On Monday, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah brought up the fact that some people are eating into government land and have even erected illegal walls on both sides of the Super Highway. In some areas, illegal booking offices have been established for commercial and residential buildings.
A survey would be conducted by the revenue department to ascertain the (amount of land) encroached on.
Over 50,000 acres have been occupied illegally, often by force. Of the encroached land, about 4,000 acres have been taken back and 132 people arrested for the crime.
The chief minister asked officials to demolish all illegal structures and take action against those involved in putting them up. “I give you full authority to take action,” he said, “even against police and revenue officials who are patronising land grabbers.”
Meanwhile, the Anti-Encroachment Cell will be bolstered with additional police force. In case of a special campaign, the cell will be provided with full force if they demand it.
The government has passed a law against land grabbing, which gives provincial authorities the power to take action against land grabbers. These cases will be referred to the special courts under the encroachment law.
“It is a very sensitive issue and it sometimes causes a law and order situation and agitation by some influential people,” the CM added.
He stressed that government land was the people’s property and that, after they verify revenue records, action will be taken against anyone who has taken it over. Revenue staff and police have been told to take prompt action, and, if necessary, the Rangers can also be called in.
Shah added that President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani have directed that the land and plots be provided to the poor and homeless.
The meeting was attended by Sindh Revenue Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar, Irrigation Minister Jam Saifullah Dharejo, Information Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, Chief Secretary Raja Muhammad Abbas, Board of Revenue Senior Member Shahzar Shamoon, IG Police Wajid Ali Durrani, Irrigation Secretary Khalid Haider Memon, Law Secretary Syed Ghulam Nabi Shah, Secretary to CM Alamuddin Bullo, Special Secretary to CM Atta Muhammad Panhwar and others.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2011.