Corporate Farming Case to Digitization of Punjab Urban Mauzas; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

25 June 2023

Judiciary scraps Land-transfer to Army for Corporate Agriculture Farming

The Lahore High Court has struck down this week the decision by the interim government of Punjab to hand over 45,000 acres of land in three districts to the army on a 20-year lease, saying that the agreement was beyond the mandate of both the caretakers and the military. Last year the former government of Punjab signed an agreement to hand over at least 45,267 acres of land to the Pakistan Army for “Corporate Agriculture Farming”. The ownership of land was in Bhakkar, Khushab and Sahiwal for the purpose of Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). However, the court ruled “the caretaker government lacks constitutional and legal mandate to take any decision regarding the CAF initiative and policy in any manner whatsoever, in terms of Section 230 of the Elections Act 2017.”


Petitions were filed by the Public Interest Law Association of Pakistan (Pilap), a not-for-profit legal organisation, and others against the move. The court had already stayed the impugned transaction on March 29 and reserved the final verdict on May 29. The petitioner argued that the joint venture agreement signed between the Governor of Punjab through member colonies of Board of Revenue and the Pakistan Army through director general strategic projects of the General Headquarters for the corporate agriculture farming was not sustainable in the law, as “the JV should have been signed by the president Arif Alvi on behalf of the army.” Striking down the impugned lease agreement, the judge said all the land shall stand reverted to the government, departments and persons as per its previous status. Besides, all subsequent notifications and developments, including the sanction or transfer of state land in favour of the Pakistan Army, were null and void as well.

Digitization of Punjab Urban Mauzas

The government of Punjab is all set to digitise the land record of as many as 1,706 urban mauzas of the province inn collaboration with the World Bank. It is reported in a news story this week quoting a senior official engaged with the Punjab Urban Land Systems Enhancement Project (PULSE). “We have started preparatory jobs required ahead of launching the works related to digitisation of as many as 1,706 mauzas of the province in collaboration with the World Bank,” says the official. He also told digitisation of Masawis, charts etc (maps consisting of pieces of clothes having hand-written brief record of mauzas, land) of all rural and urban mauzas is also part of the project. “One seamless digital map is being prepared for Punjab covering all land parcels (almost 70 millions),” the official said, adding that a standarised software catering to needs of all agencies, dealing with land records has also been planned to be established. And after doing so, the issues related to tempering with record will be no more.

Land Digitalization
Dilly-dallying in Digitalization of Properties

There are total 25,709 mauzas that include 24,003 rural 1,706 urban. Of 24,003, as many as 23,189 mauzas have been notified as digitised and their record is available online. At present, digitisation of record on the remaining 2,530 rural mauzas is under way, whereas the work on digitisation of 1,709 urban mauzasis set to begin soon. According to a spokesman for the Board of Revenue, 93% of work related to digitisation of rural mauzas has been completed paving the way to move towards digitising the land record of urban mauzas. The project aims at abolishing the outdated system of land record and making all the land information online, as well as eliminate fraud in the matter of purchase and sale of land and will reduce the issues of litigation in land matters.

GLOF Alert in Northern Areas

Amid rising temperatures the Pakistan Meteorological Department has issued an alert for Gilgit-Baltistan and some parts of KPK, which warns the possibility of flash floods and glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF). According to a press release issued by PMD, temperatures in GB and KP are expected to remain 4 to 6 degrees higher than the normal this week, followed by a rain-bearing system during the following week. The PMD warned that river inflows will increase and there are high chances of GLOF and flash floods, in the vulnerable glaciated areas of GB and KP.

Last year, above 30 GLOF incidents were reported across GB, leaving 20 people dead and thousands of people homeless. Pakistan has more glaciers than any other country outside the polar region nearly 5,300 in the Karakoram, Himalayan, and Hindu Kush ranges, according to PMD. Environmental experts say the GB residents are most vulnerable to glacier melting impacts in the country. According to a notification issued by the Gilgit deputy commissioner and the chairman of the District Disaster Management Authority as per the guidelines of PMD, the expected heat wave, and rain next week, can cause GLOF incidents, land sliding, and flash floods across GB. The notification advised local people to avoid going to mountainous areas and near nallahs and rivers.

KPK Housing & Industrial Zone Policy sought

The Peshawar High Court has directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to submit its policy on housing schemes and industrial zones to know about measures for the protection of agricultural land in the province. A bench consisting of Justice Abdul Shakoor and Justice Syed Arshad Ali asked provincial advocate general to produce that policy document on behalf of the government. It issued the order during the hearing into a petition against the acquisition of “fertile” land in Swabi district for setting up a small industrial estate. The bench also directed the Small Industrial Development Board (SIDB), which intended to set up industrial estate on the said land, to provide details of the project and its environmental impact to deputy director (legal) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compile a report sought by the high court during the last hearing.

The petition was filed by Swabi residents against the imposition of Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act in the area by the DC in his capacity as the land acquisition collector. Last year, the court had suspended a notification of Swabi`s deputy commissioner to acquire land for the project and declared that the interim relief granted to the petitioners would continue. During the last month hearing, the court had impleaded the provincial agriculture secretary and EPA director-general as respondents in the petition. This week the bench directed SIDB to hand over the project`s details within to produce the report within a month. The agriculture department also submitted a report to the court about the assessment of land to be acquired for the project. The report said that most of the area was covered by the cereal crops, mustard crops and tobacco.

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