KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah on Friday decided to allot 9,000 acres of forest land to Pakistan Army for onward distribution among the heirs of slain and war-wounded military personnel.
He took this decision while presiding over a meeting here at the Chief Minister House.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Forest Gianchand Israni, Chief Secretary Siddiq Memon, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister Almuddin Bullo, Senior Member Board of Revenue Shoaib Siddiqui, Secretary Finance Sohail Rajput, Secretary Forest Sajaad Abbasi and other concerned officers.
The chief minister said that an application of Pakistan Army was received by the Sindh government for allotment of 35,521 acres forest land in Garhi Yasin, District Shikarpur in 2001. The file had been moving from one office to another, he said.
"Since the request has been made for the rehabilitation of the slain army personnel’s families and war-wounded military personnel, therefore this request must be honoured. Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif had personally asked for the allotment of the land," he said.
The Minister for Forest Gianchand Israni told the chief minister that the land in question was located in the area of Golo Daro of Garhi Yasin. "Its 5,000 acres were under illegal occupation of some influential people which was cleared by the Rangers recently," he said.
The minister further said out of 25,000 acres forest land, 5,000 acres belonged to private owners.
Presently, 9,000 acres of land was available, said Israni, adding that his department had no objection allotting it to slain military men’s families.
Chief Secretary Siddiq Memon said the army's request for land is for families of 500 army personnel, of which 200 belong to Sindh.
“Since the request is genuine, therefore it should be entertained," Memon said.
Senior member Board of Revenue Shoaib Siddiqui said under the policy, forest land can be allotted only for agricultural purposes. The Pakistan Army has already made a request to use it for agriculture purposes, therefore government was authorised to allot the land, he said.
Secretary Forest Sajjad Abbasi said lease holders of forest lands were bound to cultivate forests on 20 per cent of total holdings and use 80pc for agriculture purposes.
The chief minister, in principle, approved the allotment of the land to Pakistan Army and directed the chief secretary to move a summary for the purpose.