Tuesday May 24, 2022

PTI flexes muscles for Punjab LG polls

A consultative committee on local bodies’ elections has been formed on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

November 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD: A consultative committee on local bodies’ elections has been formed on the directions of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to sources, the committee comprises PTI chief organiser Saifullah Niazi, Secretary General Amir Mehmood Kiani and Punjab Minister for Local Bodies Mian Mehmoodur Rashid. The committee would also consult regional presidents of the PTI.

The panel would furnish proposals on distribution of tickets and selection of candidates. It will also give suggestions on seat adjustments with like-minded parties. Earlier, Prime Minister Khan directed Punjab Local Government and Community Development Department Minister Mian Mahmoodur Rasheed to hold Local Bodies elections in Punjab early and to complete all arrangements and legal proceedings in this regard.

The directives were issued by the prime minister during his meeting with the provincial minister who called on him at the Prime Minister’s House here on Sunday. The meeting discussed the holding of Local Bodies elections in Punjab and other issues of national interest.

The premier also instructed to get the Punjab Local Government Act 2021 passed by the Punjab Assembly soon.

On this occasion, Mian Mahmood gave a detailed briefing to Imran Khan regarding the preparations for the Local Bodies elections and also apprised him about the salient features of the Local Government Act 2021.

He said that the Local Government Act has been drafted in line with the vision of the prime minister. The purpose of this act is to ensure the devolution of power to the lower level and this will make the local bodies more empowered. An effective system of Local Government will solve the problems of the people at their doorstep.

During the meeting, the prime minister also directed to hold events related to Insaf Health Card and Ehsas programme. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan Sunday vowed to take action against the land mafia and their facilitators, based on data that the government had gathered through digitisation of land records, as total value of encroached land (all state land and three major cities) was about Rs5,595 billion.

He cited the ‘shocking’ findings of the digital land survey in tweets and pointed out that the total value of all encroached state land and those in the three major cities, Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad stood at approximately Rs5.5 trillion, while the value of encroached land in these three major cities alone stood at Rs2.63 trillion.

Similarly, he noted the worth of encroached forest land stood at around Rs1.86 trillion, whereas the encroachment on forest land had aggravated Pakistan's existing lack of sufficient forest cover.

According to the details, he shared, total land surveyed – 81,209 SQ KMs (Punjab, KP, Balochistan) --around 88 percent work completed: encroached area 82,4210 acres and the approximate value of encroached land is Rs2956 billion. Forest land: total land is 29,040 SQ KMs while encroached is 67,5615 acres and approximate value is Rs1,869 billion. Railways: 8,256 acres encroached and its approximate value is Rs307 billion. Civil Aviation Authority (38 airports): 816 acres encroached and its estimated value is Rs98 billion. National Highways land, valuing at Rs52 billion encroached and the Evacuee Trust Property’s land worth Rs117 billion encroached.

He underlined that his government had faced ‘massive resistance’, just like in the case of Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) when it began cadastral mapping of the country to digitise land records.

Prime Minister uploaded details and said the results of phase-1 of the survey further revealed the causes for which the hue and cry was raised. It shows ‘phenomenal state land encroachment including of forest land through the connivance of land mafia and political elite’.

At the launching of the cadastral map for Islamabad in September, Premier Imran had said that around Rs400 billion worth of land in the capital was either illegally occupied or lay un-utilised, while almost 1,000 acres of forest land was encroached upon.

He had said the cadastral mapping of three cities would be digitised by November this year, while the rest of the country would be covered in the six months after it. PM Imran had regretted that the country’s system didn’t have the capacity to retrieve illegally occupied land from encroachers, stressing the need to establish the rule of law and had said such a move would help attract investment from abroad.

He had in September launched a cadastral map of Islamabad to curb land record tampering, ensure monitoring of construction through imagery and provide information about land ownership.

The Survey of Pakistan was assigned the task of cadastral mapping. In the first phase, digitisation of land revenue records of three major cities — Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad — and state land data of the country had to be done, which has now been completed. The survey of state land was conducted on the lands of the Forest Department, Railways, Civil Aviation Authority, National Highways and Evacuee Trust Property.