KARACHI: The Sindh government will allocate 9,000 acres of forest land in Shikarpur district to Pakistan Army for distribution among the heirs of martyred soldiers and injured war veterans.
Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah took this decision while presiding over a meeting at the CM House on Friday.
According to the chief minister, the army had asked the Sindh government for allotment of 35,521 acres land in Garhi Yasin, Shikarpur, in 2001. The file had been moving from one office to another.
“Since the request has been made for the rehabilitation of the families of martyrs and war-wounded military personnel, this request must be honoured,” he said.
Forest Minister Gianchand Israni said the land in question was located in the Golo Daro area of Garhi Yasin.
Around 5,000 acres of this land was recently retrieved by the Rangers from illegal occupation of some local influential, he said.
Out of the 25,000 acres of forest land, 5,000 acres belongs to private owners, whereas 9,000 acres was available, for which the forest department has no objection, Israni said.Chief Secretary Siddiq Memon said the army’s request for land was for the rehabilitation of families of 500 martyrs, of whom 200 were from Sindh. “Since the request is genuine, it should be entertained,” he was of the view.
Shoaib Siddiqui, senior member of Board of Revenue, said forest land could only be allotted for agricultural purposes under the rules. “As Pakistan Army has already made a request to use it for agriculture purposes, the government was authorised to allot the land,” he claimed.
Forest Secretary Sajjad Abbasi said under the policy, the lease holder of the forest land was bound to keep the forest on 20% of the total holdings and cultivate on 80%.
The chief minister approved the allotment of the land to Pakistan Army and directed the chief secretary to move the summary for approval.
The meeting was also attended by Principal Secretary to CM Alamuddin Bullo, Finance Secretary Sohail Rajput and other officers.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2015.