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ETPB land worth billions of rupees illegally occupied in Lahore

LAHORE: Illegal occupation of prime land of Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) worth billions of rupees in the vicinity of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) Lahore has been confirmed in a survey conducted by the Punjab Board of Revenue, The News has learnt.

Around 119 kanals have been retrieved out of at least 722 kanals under occupation of different persons and groups. This has been disclosed in a survey conducted by Senior Member Board Revenue (SMBR) Punjab, on the direction of the Supreme Court, while demarcating ETPB’s land situated in three Mauzas — Mauza Mota Singhwala, Mauza Lidher and Mauza Dera Chahal — surrounding DHA Phases VI and VII. The survey report was submitted to the SC registrar office in December 2013.

The SC, in its judgment of October 2, 2013, in the ETPB-DHA land deal case had directed SMBR to make arrangements for demarcation of the properties owned by ETPB in three Mauzas and ensure restoration of excess land back to the board. The SC issued these directions when it was disclosed in an FIA inquiry that the DHA had acquired more land than agreed upon between the ETPB and DHA in their land deal of 2009.

The SC had further directed the SMBR to submit a report to Registrar Office after completing demarcation of these places.

According to the SMBR report, the DHA had occupied around 225 kanals (119 kanls, 1 marla in Mauza Mota Singhwala and 106 kanal, three marlas in Mauza Lidher) of land of ETPB.

However, the SMBR succeeded in retrieving 119 kanal -1 marla from DHA and returned it back to the ETPB, on December 5, 2013. Meanwhile, the DHA got a stay order from Lahore High Court over the remaining 106 kanal - 3 marlas on December 11, 2013, the report reads. The case is still pending with the learned court.

According to the SMBR’s report, the Punjab Elite Force training school has also encroached upon 114 kanal - 9 marla of ETPB’s land in Mauza Singhwala. Besides, two graveyards have been established at 30-kanals of ETPB’s land in both the Mauzas (Lidher and Mota Singhwala).

Similarly, the report says a person named Ghulab Singh has occupied 203 kanal - 13 marlas of the board’s land at Dera Chahal, the same place where shrine of Bebe Nanki, the sister of Baba Guru Nanak, is located. Tens of hundreds of Sikh pilgrims and devotees from across the globe visit this holy place every year.

The report further mentioned that some private persons have also occupied 148 kanals and 3 marlas of ETPB’s land in all the three mauzas demarcated by the Punjab Board of Revenue.

The report also highlighted the sorry state of affairs on the part of ETPB’s management regarding handling of land dealings. It said: “The Settlement Officer Lahore reported that 119 kanals - 01 marla situated in Mauza Mota Singhwala has been successfully retrieved from DHA and handed over to ETPB, government of Pakistan which was not mutated in their favour.

Furthermore, the Collector Consolidation Lahore has reported that retrieval of land measuring 106 kanal - 3 marlas situated in Mauza Lidher has delayed due to reluctance on the part of ETPB authorities.”

According to an inquiry report submitted by FIA’s Additional Director General (Legal) Muhammad Azam before the SC during the case proceedings in 2013, originally the ETPB owned 1152 kanals and 15 marlas of land at the village Lidher, 2862 kanals at Mota Singhwala and 244 kanals and 15 marlas at Dera Chahal in tehsil Lahore Cantt.

Sources within the ETPB are of the view that the board was facing managerial problems in handling affairs of the board for the past many years. When comment sought on the report, they opined, “What could be the status of the EPTB land across the country while over 700 kanals of illegally occupied land has been identified in just three mauzas alone.”

When this correspondent approached ETPB Secretary Junaid Ahmed in person to know as to what efforts the board was making to retrieve its property from the land grabbers, he replied, “I am not bound to tell you anything on the issue.”
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