MULTAN: The district government seems hesitant to retrieve the state land from many illegal occupants due to alleged political backing.

Sources said the district administration had demolished the infrastructure of the have-nots who were alleged to have illegally occupied land along roads and residential areas but was reluctant to take action against the influential people.

Residents of Pura Burg Khana’s katchi abadi had moved the Lahore High Court’s Multan Bench on Sept 8, 2018 through their counsel Allah Dad Khan after they received an order from the deputy commissioner that their slum had been deleted from the list of the katchi abadis and they were now illegal occupants. They informed court that they had been residing at the place for decades and the Director General (DG) Katchi Abadi had excluded almost nine kanal from the slum.

Justice Abid Aziz Shaikh while converting the petition into an application directed the DG Katchi Abadi to decide the matter in accordance with law within 30 days.

The total land owned by the provincial government is 44 kanal and 11 marla and the remaining land is occupied but the illegal occupants contacted a ruling party MNA who intervened and the operation was halted. Sources said the poor residents had been arm-twisted but no action had been taken against the influential ones.

Similarly, about 600 kanal land in Mauza Durana Lanaga owned by the labour department is under illegal occupation. The land could not be retrieved due to involvement of officials of the revenue department and a political figure of the area.

They said one and a half kanal commercial piece of land at Pul Bararan was also occupied by an illegal occupant who had built a commercial plaza and was now selling shops.

They said the matter was brought into the notice of former deputy commissioner Nadir Chatha who assigned the task to the then assistant commissioner city, Mubashir Rehman, who along with other revenue staff, reached the spot and construction was halted.

They said the revenue staff informed the AC that the land was owned by the provincial government after which the matter was hushed up. After the PTI government came into power, this land was also identified as under illegal occupation but it remained untouched.

The district government spokesman, Wasim Yousaf, said land worth billions had been retrieved from the illegal occupants during the last six months. He said more such pieces of land had been identified for an anti-encroachment campaign on the direction of the provincial government.

He said Additional Deputy Commissioner Revenue Agha Zaheer Abbas Sherazi had been directed by the DC to look into the matter.

Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2019