‘Mighty’ revenue officials appeared to be in no mood for dismantling encroachment from State land, neither they are ready to respond to the official letters, written by the Punjab revenue and Irrigation secretaries who had sought a report regarding occupation of state land despite a lapse of more than one month.

The Vehari DCO, DPO and the Burewala Assistant Commissioner, despite having a clear picture, failed to remove encroachments from the land situated in Chak-517/EB Farid Town owned by the Irrigation Department land. These officers allegedly seemed to have no interest in the protection of state land although they are oath-bound and supposed to go to whatever extent to ensure writ of the state.

According to details, Punjab Revenue Secretary Ahmed Malik on the directives of Board of Revenue Senior Member Nadeem Ashraf, ordered a probe into occupation of state land (Irrigation Department) situation in Chak-517/EB Farid Town, Burewala and subsequent dismantling of encroachments within seven days from the Vehari DCO. However, despite the lapse of more than a month, neither the district administration investigated the matter, nor sent back any report to the revenue secretary.

Similarly, Punjab Irrigation Secretary Saif Anjum had also directed Chief Engineer Irrigation Multan Zone to send him a report about encroachments on the land owned by the Irrigation Department but he also failed to report the matter in time.

Although, Irrigation XEN (Pakpattan) Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry and Irrigation SDO Burewala Liaquat Ch have sent letters to the Vehari DCO, DPO and Burewala Assistant Commissioner along with relevant documents and maps, showing the land as property of the Irrigation Department. Both these officers of the Irrigation Department requested the DCO, DPO and Burewala AC to get the land vacated from the grabbers and register a case against the “land mafia” but the district administration and the Burewala AC allegedly resorted to delaying tactics on one pretext or the other.

According to locals and official record, the piece of land in question, owned by the Irrigation Department, is a baseline (drainage) for the last 50 years and people used to use it a public path. However, the occupation of this base line (sewage line) has not only deprived the locals of a common path but also forced owners of the adjacent houses to shut their exit doors.

It is to be noted that Punjab Anti-Corruption Establishment DG Rashid Anwar has also taken notice of the ‘rampant corruption’ and assigned ACE Regional Director Multan to investigate the case.

The occupation of state land (base line) has affected many locals and one of these affectees Mian Maqsood who works in Saudi Arabia for the past 12 years, had to return to Pakistan and pursue the case. He ran from pillar to the post against the encroachments on state land in front of his house but to no avail.

Finally, he had to knock the door of Commissioner Punjab Overseas Commission Afzal Bhatti to get justice. Mian Maqsood submitted that his family had been affected by the occupation of land in front of his house and he had to return to help his elderly parents to raise voice against the “daylight gabbing.” He informed the commissioner that his visa would be cancelled if he did not return by May, 2015. The Punjab Overseas Commissioner assured him of justice and resolution of his problem.

Now taking notice of the inordinate delay, Punjab Revenue Secretary Ahmed Malik issued clear instructions to the Vehari DCO and Burewala AC to do the needful without any further delay and sent him a report in three days. A similar reminder has also been sent by the Irrigation Department, bemoaning the unwarranted delay in the execution of the earlier orders.

Meanwhile, an officer of the Burewala Revenue Department, requesting anonymity, said that the “occupied land” without any doubt belonging to the Irrigation Department and the revenue offices knew this fact very well. “Now Burewala AC Saifullah Sajid, Tehsildar Rana Ijaz, Naib Tehsildar Taqi Shah, Kanungo Muhammad Salim and Patwari Abdul Khaliq Bhutta are in a fix because these officials allegedly paved the way for occupation of the state land (sewage line) by showing it as private land and now these face difficulty to get it vacated,” he pointed out, adding that these corrupt revenue officer deserve stern action and the high-ups should make them pay for their wrongdoings and connivance with land grabbers.

Meanwhile, local social and religious circles and civil society activists demanded Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to take stern action against these corrupt revenue officers for colluding with grabbers, causing great loss to the nation exchequer. They also regretted that both the Vehari DCO and DPO failed to take any action against the land mafia despite having a clear picture the matter. “They (DCO and DPO) have unfettered access to official record and they can decide any matter without any delay in free and fair way,” they pointed out.

They also emphasised a vigorous campaign to discourage land grabbing and sensitise the officers of various departments on protection of government property at all costs.