LAYYAH: The deputy commissioner (DC) has ordered cancellation of 9,273 state kanals’ allotment to people through bogus “B files” which were attached with the original land adjustment files kept in the record room of the DC office.

In 1948, the government established the Thal Development Authority (TDA) to construct an irrigation system in the five districts of Punjab which included Layyah, Bhakkar, Mianwali, Khushab and Muzaffargarh.

The TDA acquired land from different land owners as contribution to meet the expenditures on the construction of the canal system. The land was acquired through a slab system. Those having 12 acres or more land were spared.

After the construction of the irrigation system the land owners submitted a writ petition in the LHC alleging the authority has acquired more land than the requirement and the extra land bought should be returned to their rightful owners.

The LHC in 1973 ordered the TDA to return the land to their rightful owners under right to return. The verdict satisfied those landowners who had given more land than their required contribution for the canals. The owners got back their land from the TDA through the revenue court under right to return. After the decisions the files were kept in the record room or “muhafiz khana” of the DC office.

The land mafia in collaboration with the revenue officials grabbed government’s land through bogus documents which were attached to the original record file as “B file”. This practice continued for two decades until a citizen complained about this illegality.

At that time, DCO Rana Gulzar constituted a seven-member inquiry commission which unearthed some 200 “B files” from the record room. The revenue authorities appealed for the cancellation of land adjustment in the revenue court of the district collector.

DC Azfar Zia ordered cancellation of 21 files of land adjustment on Oct 8 and 23 adjustment files on Oct 24 with the total land measuring at 9,273 kanals with the price tag of Rs8bn rupees in the open market.

Published in Dawn, November 1st, 2020