MURREE: More than a hundred out of 500 residential plots allotted in the government-owned Murree Improvement Trust Scheme have been encroached upon.

The Murree administration appears helpless against the occupiers of the lands, which are owned by teachers, professors, doctors and others who bought their plots 20 to 40 years ago.

Noor Zaman, an elderly man who was allotted a plot in 1973, has not been given possession of his land after 47 years.

He said he bought the land after his retirement for him and his wife, but even 20 years since his retirement he has not been able to get possession of it.

Aziz Ahmed, a retired college professor, said he was also among those who bought land in the government scheme assuming it to be safe, and after investing their savings learned that their plots had been occupied by encroachers that the government has failed to remove for decades.

The allottees appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the chief justice to take notice of the matter.

However, the locals who have taken over more than 150 plots as well as a large portion of forest and cantonment land, claim to be its owners.

According to Mussiyarri village residents Haroon Abbasi - a former Murree nazim - and Qamar Abbasi and Sufi Abid Abbasi, their ancestor Baba Lashkri Khan had a lease agreement with the British and never sold his land to them.

Until 1970, the residents of Musiyarri who have claimed ownership of this land received lease payments from the British government through the embassy in Islamabad.

They claim that the city of Murree is built on their leased ancestral land, taken over from the British by the Pakistani government, which then built on it.

Murree Assistant Commissioner Zahid Hussain, who is also a secretary of the MIT, told Dawn that the claimants of the land lost a case regarding their lease claim that reached the Supreme Court.

He said they were also fined Rs100,000 by the court for making false claims.

He said the government developed the MIT scheme on its land in 1963 and allotted plots through balloting in 1967.

Under instructions from Punjab Housing Minister Mian Mehmoodul Rasheed, a committee was constituted that included Mussiyarri residents in order to settle the problem, he said.

In the initial stages, some 35 plots were vacated and handed over to the original allottees. Around 107 now remain under occupation, he said, but efforts to vacate them are being made.

He added that if the land is not vacated through negotiations, the state has to use force to establish its writ.

Mr Hussain said that since the ban on construction was lifted by the Lahore High Court, around 24 layout plans have been approved and construction has resumed legally on plots after a 12-year ban.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2020



Courting controversy
Updated 01 Apr, 2023

Courting controversy

Pakistan cannot afford any of its top judges to be seen to be associated with one political narrative or the other.
No more freebies
01 Apr, 2023

No more freebies

PERHAPS amongst the major reasons Pakistan is fighting to maintain financial solvency today is that its rapacious...
Airports in private hands
01 Apr, 2023

Airports in private hands

THE government decision to ‘outsource’ the operations and land assets of the three main airports in Lahore,...
Sedition law
Updated 31 Mar, 2023

Sedition law

It is about time that our social contract is rewritten to reflect the primacy of the public’s right to democratic expression and dissent.
A step forward
31 Mar, 2023

A step forward

ALTHOUGH her post is temporary at the moment, Justice Musarrat Hilali has nevertheless made history by being...