LAHORE - The Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) plans to establish VIP counters at the tehsil level costing Rs32m to the national exchequer, official sources told The Nation.

After approval of the CM, the sources added, the counters for VIP will be set up.

“It didn’t match to the CM Punjab vision that was to ensure computerised land records to all and sundry,” said Sadiq Ali, a farmer who made many visits to the computerised centres.

“What would be the difference between the patwari-run system and the computerised one if the gratification, long queues, VIP culture is still prevalant,” he asked.

“Politicians, feudal lords, government officers and the rich would ensure their easy access to theforcuments by spending money while the farmers from humble background would suffer like they used to do in old days.”

The Punjab land record management information system is the flagship programme of the Punjab government to thrust aside age old patwari system. But what is happening in the authority depicts another picture all together. It badly corrupts the vision of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The CM had, time and again, retreated that he wanted a corruption free and foolproof Land management system for the farmers across the province.

Recently, the software used by the Land Record Management Information System (LRMIS) was corrupted at some tehsils; reportedly a severe virus attack damaged the computerised system.

The PLRA was using the software in collaboration with the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), which called a meeting on the issue to look into the matter and resolve the IT related issue surfaced at many of the Arazi Service Centers. It is not yet known who was responsible for the IT failure.

A couple of weeks ago, the CM had directed the authorities concerned to remove all the illegal persons recruited using unfair means. The Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), on the CM’s directives, arrested several officers to probe the matter.

The ACE not only arrested the officers but also started action against those who were recruited legally.

The management of the authority failed to complete the process of scanning the illegal appointments. The lacunas paved the way for illegal appointees getting stay orders from the courts of law.

Now former director of the authority Maqbool Ahmed Dhawla is behind the bars who faces charges of making illegal appointments in the authority. Interestingly, all those who were blamed of getting jobs illegally, removed by the PLRA management, are restored by the court.

The total budget estimate for the PLRA and its network in Punjab for FY 2017-18 is expected Rs6,128,231,600. The total approved staff is 4602 that include ARCs 3,237, PLRA Head Quarter staff 226, supporting staff 1,139. The senior officers draw handsome salaries from Rs100,000 to Rs 800,000.

PLRA Director General Capt (r) Zafar Iqbal was unavailable for his comments.