LAHORE - In line with its claims about elimination of the patwari culture from Punjab, the provincial government has proposed renaming patwaris as revenue assistants.

The Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) was established to replace patwaris. With accomplishment of the project of land record computerisation worth Rs12 billion, record centres have been established across Punjab and they are now facilitating 143 tehsils of the province with a total area of 205,345 square kilometres and more than 80 million population.  The Land Records Management and Information Systems Project (LRMIS-P), a World Bank-funded programme, was signed in January 2007. The BOR claims the PLRMIS computerisation was just a scanning of the board record and the system was using it as a copy at the service centres.

Earlier, around 8,000 patwaris used to preserve land records of 20 million land owners in Punjab. Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif had criticised the patwar khana, saying had it been helping people there would have been no need to change it. He pledged to end the traditional patwari system across the province. The Punjab government has stopped filling the seats of patwaris who retired in recent months.

Moreover, a proposal to restructure the Board of Revenue (BOR) was moved to the Senior Member of the Board of Revenue who sought comments from the commissioners, board officers and others.

Sources said the proposal was floated by the deputy commissioner of (DC) Sheikhupura. A commissioner said on condition of anonymity that he had conveyed to the senior member that the government would be playing on a weak footing if it ignores importance of the board. The Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) director general was also conveyed about the alarming situation in the districts. “People are suffering more than they used to during the patwari culture,” he said.

“Whatever is happening in the current computer system, its consequences would be fierce,” said an official of the Arazi Centre run by the PLRA.

It is learnt that a new wing is being set up at the board to devise a policy and do research. It will be headed by the revenue secretary, who will overhaul the department.  Talking about the proposal, an official of the Sheikhupura DC Office said that graduate revenue assistants would be recruited in BPS-12 through the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). The qanungo/girdawars may be made revenue supervisors in grade 14. The option of hiring the existing staff would be open. Those with 25 years of service and not more than 50 years of age could be eligible to qualify for the newly-created slots.

A new tier of revenue supervisors in BPS-14 will also work as assistant collectors in grade II. All tehsildars with 25 years of experience and below 50 years may also apply after passing certain tests. Fresh graduates with a bachelor’s degree may be recruited through the PPSC. There is also a proposal to entitle them with 800cc official vehicles.