LAHORE: The Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) has completed 95 percent of geotagging of its property with the Survey of Pakistan, which will be linked with the Pakistan Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) to know about the status of its property through satellite images. The board will hire private firms for ground verification of the land their status updates, use, etc., ETPB Chairman Dr Habibur Rehman Gilani told Dawn on Sunday. The remaining 5pc work will be done in a few weeks.

“We have also entered into an agreement with the Supraco under which, we will have access to its satellite imagery system to know about the 20 years old Seattleite status of our property,” he said.

“The cost to be incurred for this three-year project, which also includes training of our staff, use of the system, software, and printing, is Rs150 million. After passing three years, the cost would be nominal.”

The ETPB owns 120,000 acres, 19 plazas, including one in Lahore and three in Islamabad and common residences, and the annual revenue earned through lease, rents, and religious tourism in 2021-22 was about Rs2.6 billion. The new chairman plans to increase it to Rs5 billion.

The need to protect the property through modern systems (geotagging, satellite imagery, live locations, on-ground verification) emerged after various incidents of burning of the record in various ETPB offices, including one at Nankana Sahib a couple of years before.

The chairman said after the completion of all these works, the ETPB property would be safe.

“The ETPB property record would be shared with the central headquarters in Lahore, the ministry of information and other departments concerned,” he added.

He said the ground verification through a third party will help us know the exact current status of the property (agriculture, commercial, residential), users (tenant/family or firm), and cultivation of the crop. “In this way, we can also come to know about the authenticity of reports regarding land status being sent/prepared by our district offices and the discrepancies or fraudulent activities (if any),” he said.

After getting the board’s entire property protected under innovative systems, no one can submit false claims regarding possession and cultivation or use of land.

The chairman said the board is also set to start e-billing, e-leasing and e-tendering to eliminate corrupt practices.

About other activities, he revealed that the management has also decided to prepare master plans of major gurdwaras and temples in collaboration with the National College of Arts, Walled City of Lahore Authority and Archeology Department. By preparing master plans, the ETPB would be able to control haphazard or ill-planned development within and out of gurdwaras and temples, conservation, view obstructions, etc.

The ETPB looks after 200 gurdwaras and 150 mandir temples across the country.

“Initially, we will get master plans of major gurdwaras - Nankana Sahib, Nawab Sahib (Lahore), Rohri Sahib (Aimanabad), Panja Sahib, Krishna Mandir, Katas Raj Mandir and some other places. We’re engaging the tourism department to make efforts to promote religious tourism, enabling our youth to know about our heritage,” he said.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2022

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