PESHAWAR, Feb 1: Around 7,090 kanals of government land in Dera Ismail Khan district has been reoccupied by the people evicted earlier, official sources have said.
The department got possession of the farmlands after the standing committee on agriculture, livestock and corporation department of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly took notice of the matter in 2011.
However, occupants expelled staff of the department and took over the lands again, sources said.
“Lessees, who were expelled with the help of police and the district administration, have reoccupied lands,” an official said, adding that the department and the local administration were helpless to expel land grabbers.
According to the house’s committee report, five seed farms measuring 7,090 kanals and 12 marlas belonging to the agriculture department were leased out to several people in the district. However, the leaseholders refused to hand over possession to the department after termination of the agreement.
MPA Israrullah Khan Gandapur had raised the issue in the assembly through a question and the matter was referred to the relevant committee of the assembly.
The report said after deliberations and meetings with the senior officers of agriculture and revenue departments the committee involved district administration and directed to get vacated illegal occupants and possession of the land was handed over to the agriculture department.
Officials said farmland belonged to the agriculture department but the agreement with lessees was signed by the revenue department in 2006.
They said these farms were handed over to the revenue department.
Chairman of the standing committee Ali Shah Bacha told Dawn on Friday that the lease agreement was not transparent and the revenue department had terminated the deal in 2007.
He said despite that, the aggrieved party refused to vacate the land.
Mr Bacha said the government could terminate the lease agreement unilaterally.
“In fact, the land was prepared to develop seed farms and not to lease out to private parties. That was why the agreement was terminated,” he said, adding that lessees had approached the local court and the case was decided in favour of the government.
However, he said, these people were not ending possession.
“We have heard that the land has been reoccupied. But what the committee can do? The committee’s job was to get vacate illegal occupants from the state land. Now, it is the government and the relevant department’s responsibility to maintain possession of its property,” he said.
Mr Bacha confirmed that land grabbers were supported by an influential political family and it was very difficult to expel influential people from the government land.
Sources said officials in agriculture and revenue departments were hand in gloves with land grabbers.
A lawmaker from the area insisted that the local authorities’ leniency had encouraged land grabbers to reoccupy the land.