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CHITRAL: The district council witnessed a heated debate on the land settlement process on the second day of its session here on Friday.

Speakers at the session, chaired by convener Maulana Abdul Shakoor, expressed fears that they were being divested of the pastures, meadows and riverbeds attached to the villages as a result of settlement as they were being declared as state property.

They said that the bickering among the villagers over the ownership of common land would increase which could disturb peaceful atmosphere of the area. They feared that the influential people of the area would get most of the common land.

Replying to the members’ concerns, settlement officer Mazhar Ali Shah said that the state and private property had been demarcated in the extraordinary gazette notification of 1975 of then NWFP government. He assured the house that all complaints of the people would be addressed during the settlement process as per law.

A proposal of district nazim Maghfirat Shah was acceded to by the house who said that the settlement officer would visit all the 24 union councils of the district before the final notification.

The house also asked the federal government to open the Gobor Pass and Arandu routes bordering Afghanistan to promote trade and economic activities in the area.

The members said that the area of Badakhshan province of Afghanistan was known for its peaceful atmosphere whose residents had great intimacy with the people of Chitral. The house also unanimously passed a resolution tabled by Akbar Shah to rename the Booni-Torkhow road as Captain Ajmal Shaheed Road.

Through another resolution, the house demanded of the government to electrify all the 100 villages of the district from the Golen Gol hydropower project on subsidised rates so that cutting of forest trees for heating and cooking purposes could be stopped.

Deputy commissioner of Upper Chitral district, Shah Saud, also addressed the house and sought its support in discharge of his duties.

Published in Dawn, May 4th, 2019