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DERA GHAZI KHAN: Punjab government’s anti-encroachment campaign could not retrieve government land, meant for orchards at intersections, from grabbers in Dera Ghazi Khan city.

As per the original map of the city, land was allocated for orchids at the four corners of every chowk of the city. Orchid land is under the use of illegal occupants, who have constructed makeshift shops with the connivance of municipality officials.

One municipality employee told Dawn on the condition of anonymity told that only shops’ platforms and footpath were cleared during campaign whereas precious government land was still in illegal possession.

Deputy Commissioner Iqbal Mazhar Mahar told Dawn 926.2 kanals in rural and 2,643 kanals in urban areas had been retrieved since the launch of the operation while 130,953.5 kanals had yet to be retrieved. He added an operation to retrieve 300 acres of the Forest Department had also been initiated and in this regard hurdles were not being tolerated.

Newly-posted Commissioner Tahir Khursheed told Dawn that he would look into the matter of orchard land and would retrieve precious government land from the grabbers to restore the original plan of the Dera Ghazi Khan city.

TAX COLLECTION: Rickshaw drivers halted their three-wheelers on Monday in protest against parking tax, being collected from them, what they say. by private people. The strike forced people and schoolchildren to walk on foot or use alternative means to reach their destinations.

Rickshaw drivers said earlier municipal corporation people would collect “illegal” parking tax from them and now private people had started collecting tax from them without providing facilities like shed and water.

District Finance Officer of District Council Daud Taoqeer Alam, who has additional charge of Municipal Corporation, told Dawn the parking tax was legal. Last year, the tax collection was auctioned through bids and a contract was given to a party against Rs15 million.

He said rickshaw drivers’ union filed a writ petition against the tax collection, and the court forwarded the matter to the Local Government secretary for deliberation. When the secretary called the contract legal, the court also declared the tax collection as per law. At this, petitioners obtained a stay order from a civil court against the decision, which was later withdrawn.

He said this year the parking tax collection could not be auctioned because of low bids. At present, corporation employees were collecting the tax.

Published in Dawn, October 30th , 2018