LAHORE: The change of guards in Punjab in the month of April has put on hold the restoration of the Lumberdari system approved around a year ago by the previous provincial government.

The Buzdar government had promised to allot around 398,400 acres of land to Lumberdars (village headmen) across the province for mobilising them for various official duties ranging from collection of taxes to administration of polio vaccination. The government decided to recruit 5,000 more Lumberdars to fill the vacant posts.

There are a total of 38,700 Lumberdars, including 2,800 women, in the province. Of them, only 5,500 have been allotted state land.

The government promised that the rest of the Lumberdars would also be allotted land, 12 acres per village headman, within three months as state land to the tune of hundreds of thousands of acres had been retrieved from illegal grabbers between 2018 and 2021. The authorities concerned were directed in June last to issue orders for the allotments.

As an additional incentive, permission was also granted for abolishing the fee for an honorary licence of 12-bore gun for each Lumberdar as assurance of security of their lives and properties.

Buzdar set-up had promised to allot land to Lumberdars a year back

About new recruitment for the post, it was decided that the new Lumberdars would be selected on a merit under which they would be given 50 numbers for inheritance (offspring of past Lumberdars) and 50 for their qualification.

Then agriculture minister Hussain Jehanian Gardezi had said that the effective role of Lumberdars in assisting the government and general public had been realised and the government was working to institutionalise this role.

“It is very important to activate the Lumberdars for the transfer and distribution of inherited lands. Their services may be hired for coronavirus and polio vaccination, maintaining peace during Muharram in villages, recovery of digital abiana (water rate), running the Gardawari system in an effective manner and the collection of agriculture tax,” the minister had stated.

A former official of the Board of Revenue toldDawnon the condition of anonymity that there had been different policies about allotment of land to Lumberdars: in animal breeding scheme, a Lumberdar was empowered to even sell out the allotted land, in another he may be allotted land at any other place if the same is not available in his/her own village.

He said the policy was misused as in some cases the land was allotted over 100-km away from the village the Lumberdar was head of.

As per his experience in the revenue department, he suggested that the Lumberdars should be offered honoraria instead of land as allotment of land away from the headman’s own village might divert his attention to the area where he had been given the land.

Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2022

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