islamabad - The authorities have handed over a piece of land in the foothills of Margalla worth billions of rupees to its ‘rightful’ owner after carrying out dubious demarcation proceedings.  The proceedings are dubious because the Capital Development Authority (and Revenue Department of the ICT) was kept away from them, the report prepared by the officials suggests.  

The Supreme Court on 3 April 2018, in the suo moto case regarding cutting of trees from Margalla Hills and Lora, KPK by the stone crushers, had directed the authorities concerned, particularly Punjab Forest Department, to immediately carry out the handing/taking over of land in mouza Shah Allah Ditta to its rightful owner as per report of Survey of Pakistan and the record available with other departments.

“The Forest Department Punjab with the help of Revenue Department ICT, Islamabad and CDA will accomplish the task,” read a letter subsequently written by Additional Attorney General of Pakistan, Syed Nayyar Abbas Rizvi to the heads of the concerned departments on 3 April 2018. 

After AAG’s letter to the concerned authorities, a low-level team was constituted which handed over 112 kanals of land to one Khalid Mahmood Bhatti on 9 April 2018, who, according to the sources, owns lesser land in that area. Neither any public hearing was conducted nor were public objections sought by the authorities in accordance with the law before handing over the private land to its rightful owner (s).

The ‘attendance report’ prepared by the concerned officials present on the occasion of handing over of the land speaks a lot about how the CDA kept away from the proceedings and did not even assign a senior level officer for the job. The report pertaining to the land in Khasra number 563 adjacent to the state land in mouza Shah Allah Ditta Tehsil and District Islamabad and prepared by the Punjab Forest Department suggests that the land in the said khasra is in joint ownership.

It said the Chairman CDA, under the directions of the Supreme Court, was to hand over private land from Burji number 21 to 27 to its rightful owner/complainant in the case as per report of Survey of Pakistan. The report suggests that the complainant in the case, Khalid Mahmood Bhatti was to surrender 78 kanals of land currently in the ownership of Punjab Forest Department, to CDA however, the report of Survey of Pakistan had no mention of the Forest Department’s land.

 “Instead of a responsible officer from the CDA turning up at the site during the handing/taking over, a lower grade official of the CDA’s forest department called Lal Badshah came to the site without any knowledge of the 78 kanals of the land of Punjab Forest Department which was to be retrieved from the complainant in the case,” said the report. “When asked about the land, Lal Badshah told the officials that he has no knowledge about it. Member Planning CDA Asad Kiani was also contacted via phone who said that forester Lal Badshah is present on the occasion as representative of the CDA,” the report further said.

The Punjab Forest Department officials handed over the land from Burji number 21 to 27 as per report of the Survey of Pakistan to its ‘rightful’ owner. However, they noted in the report that the CDA officials would be in a better position to explain about the 78 kanals of the land which the complainant Khalid Mahmood Bhatti was supposed to surrender.  

Additional Attorney General of Pakistan, Syed Nayyar Abbas Rizvi had, on 3 April 2018, asked the Chief Commissioner Islamabad office, Commissioner Rawalpindi division, Survey of Pakistan, Chairman CDA, Secretary (Forest, Wildlife and Fisheries) Lahore to do the needful as per directions of the Supreme Court to carryout the handing/taking over of the land to its rightful owner as per survey report of Survey of Pakistan and the record available with the departments.

The letter addressed by the Additional Attorney General to the concerned departments said that the Forest Department Punjab, being the owner of the reserved forest compartments, with the help of Revenue Department of ICT and CDA will accomplish the task. However, the CDA, a major stakeholder in the case did not attend the proceedings and the Punjab Forest Department’s land could not be retrieved from the complainant in the case though he succeeded in getting possession of the land.