Punjab revives old patwar system by replacing ARCs

Published April 24, 2021
A Patwari working at his rented office in Chakwal. — Dawn/File
A Patwari working at his rented office in Chakwal. — Dawn/File

GUJRAT: The centuries-old Patwar system has, once again, been revived by the PTI government in Punjab through posting of land revenue officials at the recently launched the Dehi Marakaz-i-Maal (rural revenue centres), also called Satellite Arazi Record Centres.

Earlier, the PML N government had gradually replaced the Patwar system with at least 144 Arazi Record Centres (ARCs) and computerisation of land record in the province during its 10 years tenure (2008-2018). These ARCs had improved the service delivery, removed the intervention of Patwaris and controlled corruption in the revenue department.

Though the Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) had devised a plan to establish the ARCs at the Qanungoi circle level, the establishment of Dehi Marakaz-i-Maal is said to be the brain child of Senior Member Board Of Revenue (SMBR) Babar Hayat Tarrar who envisaged the revival of the Patwar system through these centres in the rural areas.

The Board of Revenue has also approved the recruitment of hundreds of Patwaris for which a process has already been launched by the respective tehsil and district administrations across the province.

Approves hiring of patwaris; gives revenue officials laptops from students’ share

As per the initial plan, only the computer literate Patwaris and Qanungos have been assigned the task to serve at the Dehi Marakaz-i-Maal (DMM) for which the PLRA has been asked to train these land revenue officials and make a separate login for them to deliver the services such as issuance of Fard (property ownership document), insert mutations and other related things.

Moreover, the PLRA has also been asked to install the computer software of the revenue services in the laptops given to these officials by the Punjab government.

Even the PML-Q, an important ally of the PTI in Punjab, had expressed its reservations over the Punjab government’s decision of handing over the laptops meant for the students to the Patwaris for the services at the DMM as a senior PML-Q leader Chaudhry Moonis Elahi in March had criticised the Punjab government through a tweet, saying that the government should not utilise computers meant for students.

A senior officer of the land revenue department told Dawn there was some major flaw in the system of the ARCs where service centre officials (known as digital Patwaris), Service Center in-charges (SCIs) and Land Record Officers (LROs) did not have the basic knowledge of the land revenue and field work as compared to the Patwari and revenue officer due to which the public and government had been paying a huge price in terms of service delivery and revenue generation.

He said that with the posting of computer literate officials of the land revenue department at the level of Qanungoi, the service delivery and revenue generation would improve whereas the workload on the existing system of the ARCs would also be reduced since most of the ARCs were established at tehsil or a major town level.

PLRA Chairman Sardar Ahmed Ali Khan Dreshak (also a PTI MPA), through a letter written to the SMBR last November, had expressed serious reservations over the BoR’s plan to relaunch the Patwar system in Punjab.

The future of the PLRA field staff may also be at stake in the wake of reviving the Patwar system.

At least 12 Dehi Marakaz-i-Maal have been established only in Gujrat district where appointment of Patwaris and other officials of land revenue department have been completed. These officials will now get training for a couple of days at the ARC of their respective tehsils.

Five DMMs each have been established in Gujrat and Kharian tehsils whereas one such centre has been established in Dandi village of Sara-i-Alamgir tehsil. Seven ARCs are in operation in three tehsils of the district, three each in Gujrat and Kharian and one in Sara-i-Alamgir.

Gujrat may need to recruit at least 13 new Patwaris for the posting at newly-launched centres.

It is learnt that the Patwaris and revenue officials will collect the government fee at the DMM and then deposit with the bank account of the Punjab government unlike the practice at ARCs where a separate bank counter is arranged for the collection of official fee without intervention of Patwari or any other revenue official.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2021

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