LAHORE: Land grabbers are fast changing the character of Gowala Colony, allotted to milkmen for housing their cattle by selling the plots on fake documents, according to a Revenue Department survey report.
The report states that nearly 300 encroachments have been made in the colony, located in Wagha Town near Harbanspura on the GT Road, by residential and commercial buildings constructed in violation of rules and regulations.
A revenue official told The Express Tribune that land grabbers, backed by politicians, had been selling plots using fake documents. He said that the town administration was aware of the activity but had not taken any action so far against the encroachers.
Chaudary Manzoor, the Gowala Colony administrator, said he was not updated on the survey findings. He referred Tribune to the deputy district officer (Revenue), Saleha Saeed, saying that she was in charge of the survey.
Saleha Saeed told Tribune that the land mafia will not be let off. She said the department might launch an operation against the encroachers as early as the first week of October.
Another Revenue Department official, however, was not convinced a full-fledged operation against the land grabbers could be launched soon.
“The department will have to overcome immense opposition from local politicians to be able to successfully crack down on the encroachers,” he said.
He said encroachers enjoyed support of some members of parliament. He said that the survey was undertaken in July this year, following numerous complaints received by the department regarding illegal constructions. A team of patwaris (revenue officials) carried out the survey and submitted the report to the DDO (Revenue). “No action has been taken by the department so far.”
He said that the government had set up the colony on 96 acres (800 kanals) of land in 1988. He said that it was established to move the cattle herds scattered across the city to one place.
“A ban has since been in place on keeping cows and buffalos at any place other than the Gowala Colony,” he said.
More than 617 one-kanal plots have been allotted to milkmen to house their animals.
The government, he said, did not transfer ownership rights of the land to the milkmen, “They were only given allotment slips.”
This, he said, was done to make sure that they only use the land for keeping their cattle and do not sell it.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2010.