Punjab BoR asked to hand over 45,267 acres of state land to army
TAHIR AMIN, NUZHAT NAZAR & SOHAIL SARFRAZ
ISLAMABAD: The General Headquarters Lands Directorate has asked the Board of Revenue, Punjab to handover state lands of 45,267 acres to the Pakistan Army for corporate agriculture farming.
The Director General Strategic Projects, Pakistan Army through a letter, a copy of which is available with Business Recorder, addressed to the Member (Colonies), Board of Revenue, Punjab, has asked for handing over the state lands in three districts of Punjab including Bhakkar, Khushab, and Sahiwal.
The letter noted reference SOCs vide government of Punjab notification number 197-2023/0334-CS.II(IX) dated 20th February 2023 and JV Management agreement dated 8th March 2023.
It further stated, “While signing the JV Management Agreement on 8th March 2023, it was decided that state lands immediately required for the project be handed over to Pak Army.”
The lands may be handed over as per details including; (a) 10,273 acres of Livestock department in Rakh Ghulaman Mouza of tehsil KallorKot in district Bhakkar on 17th March 2023; (b) 23,027 acres of Forest department in Rakh Gohar Wala of tehsil KallorKot in district Bhakkar on 18th March 2023; (c) 9,424 acres of Livestock department in Rakh Mahni of tehsil Mankera in district Bhakkar on 15th March 2023; (d) 981 acres of Livestock department in Chak 61 MB of tehsil Khushab in district Khushab on 17th March 2023; (e) 837 acres of Agriculture department in Chak 5 MB of tehsil Quaidabad in district Khushab on 18th March 2023, and (f) 725 acres of provincial government in Chak 13/11L of tehsil Chichawatni in district Sahiwal on 15th March 2023.
The letter further stated that departments may keep portions as per their requirements/ research needs. However, research proposals on the following lines may also be shared for better management; (a) project name, (b) purpose of the project, (c) land required for attainment of the objective, (d) funds required/funded by, and (e) time required to complete the project.
When contacted, military sources told Business Recorder that the mentioned land is mostly barren, ancient and uninhabited. The government of Punjab will temporarily give to the army to make it cultivable through a joint venture. This means possession and ownership of this land will remain with the Punjab government.
Due to poor land reforms, ineffective agricultural policies, climate change and increasing population, the annual growth of the agriculture sector in Pakistan’s economy, which was 4 percent in 1960, has reduced to 2.5 percent in 2022.
To deal with this situation, the Punjab government has chalked out a plan to restore the agriculture sector with the help of the Pakistan Army.
Under this project, the barren lands of the Punjab government will be made cultivable and the production of low yielding lands will be increased.
They said that the intervention of the army will only be to provide a coherent administrative structure.
The project implementation and agricultural activities will be done by the local population and the people of the villages will have a livelihood close to their home.
With the use of modern agricultural methods, machinery and high quality seeds, agricultural production will be increased manifold, they maintained.
In the first part of the project, different varieties of pulses, millets and rice will be cultivated. This will be followed by large-scale cultivation of canola and wheat.
They further said that 40 percent of the revenue generated from the crop will go to the Punjab government, 20 percent will be spent on modern research and development in the agriculture sector.
And the remaining 40 percent will be used for the next crop and expansion of the project.
The project is expected to generate billions of revenue to the provincial government in a few months. Army will not receive any revenue share from this project, sources added.