Pakistan: Details of Land grabbers selling 7,000 Kanals of land and getting caught

MURREE – 7,000 kanals of forest land in Murree has been sold out for
billions after being encroached by land grabbers having support of
some “very influential figures,” an official told Dawn. “This is worst
kind of encroachment in the history and it became possible with the
connivance of the forest department’s staff and high-profile backers
of the encroachers,” Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Javed Gill said.
In recent months, a chief minister’s enquiry team was established with
Capt (retired) Jehanzeb as its head which submitted its detailed
report on the encroachment to the Punjab government. As a result,
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif ordered the transfer of officials found
involved in the illegal activity and called for fresh demarcation by a
“credible agency” to identify the land grabbers and their supporters.
According to the enquiry report, the Federal Shariat Court Housing
Society allegedly encroached 185 kanals of forest land. When
demarcation was carried out in 1992 by a senior civil judge Islamabad
on the orders of the high court, it was confirmed that 185 kanals and
nine marlas had been encroached. Similarly, Oil and Gas Cooperative
Housing Society allegedly encroached 800 kanals in the reserved forest
No. 91 and 94 in 2004 with the connivance of the then DFO, Malik
Ameer, a suspected land grabber and estate developer Faizan Azam and

The report also said Bahria Golf City purchased private land
and during development, it bulldozed the pillars demarcating the
forest land and allegedly encroached about 400 kanals covered with
trees. It added the DFO Murree had sent a detailed charge sheet
against the field staff of the forest department who helped the
housing society encroach the precious forest land. Likewise, more than
20 kanals of land was allegedly grabbed by Faizan Azam, an estate
developer and contractor for the Atomic Energy Commission Employees
Cooperative Housing Society, with the connivance of Naib Tehsildar
Forest Sarfraz Ali, some officials in the revenue department and
influential political figures of the area.It is pertinent to mention
that Mr Azam spent millions of rupees during the General Elections
2008 on installing dozens of advertisement board in favour of these
political figures. The DFO on October 8, 2008, registered an FIR with
the Murree police against Mr Azam. Javed Gill said about 4,000 kanals
under the possession of encroachers had further been sold off for
billions of rupees. The land falls in the precincts of Bhurban and its
other adjoining areas of Kaseri, Mussiari, Tappa Keri, Santhi and Hill
Dolo. Thousands of precious pine trees, which take years to grow, were
chopped down but no action was taken against the perpetrators. On the
one hand the government is spending millions to advertise its plans
for a cleaner environment, but on the other, thousands of kanals of
forest land is being encroached by land mafia right under the nose of
the provincial authorities. Rural Areas Development Organisation
(Rado) president Hafiz Saeed Abbasi said people expected that the new
Punjab government would take action against encroachment, but their
hopes had faded. He said his organisation would continue its efforts
to protect the forests and environment of Murree. Javed Ahmad, a
notable figure in the area, appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari,
Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to
take serious notice of the encroachment on forest land.

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Comments (1)

afrasiyab(RFO)October 20th, 2009 at 1:05 am

the fate of our forests are in the hand of timber mafia

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