LAHORE: The land record management system in Punjab has failed to facilitate the citizens, exposing tall claims of government to end of years old patwari culture, Pakistan Today has observed.
To curb corruption and access to the land record, Punjab government established a computerised land record system but the system is still unable to facilitate the clients as per its objectives.
After an order passed by the Supreme Court in June 2012, the chief minister of Punjab launched the programme with a huge amount of Rs 17.5 billion as aid from the World Bank. Under the project, the land record of 52 million families was to be computerised in the 36 districts of the province.
At the time of inauguration, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif was hopeful that the system would help in ending the difficulties of clients regarding their land records which they had been facing earlier. It was also claimed during advertisement of the programme that with the computerisation of the land record, one could obtain the copy of the land record (fard) within 30 minutes and the transfer of land would be done in just 50 minutes.
However, it has been observed that many citizens are facing difficulties in getting land record from Arazi Record Centers (ARCs). Many citizens have complained that are unable to obtain the required record, increasing their troubles regarding sale and purchase of a property.
A citizen, Waheed Alam told Pakistan Today that he needed the land record of his property and for the purpose when he reached concerned ARC. There he was informed to go to a patwari for correction of his name. “I tried to approach the patwari but could not find him,” he said, adding that when he found the patwari after long efforts, he was informed that they were on strike.
Sources in the Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA) reveal that despite taking strict measures, many officials are still involved in corruption. “They intentionally put queries on the documents of the citizens so that they can take a bribe from them,” they say, adding that the problems of citizens have doubled as they are asked to go to the relevant patwari for different corrections. They further say that tout mafia is also active with help of some officials near record centres.
PLRA Director General Zafar Iqbal, while denying the corruption in the department, said that they had adopted a zero tolerance policy over corruption. Talking to Pakistan Today he said, “Department has terminated more than 50 employees in the last six months over corruption charges.”
He further said that a proper mechanism of monitoring, check and balance had been adopted. “Every tehsil of Punjab have a five member special committee working under the assistant commissioner which submits its report to headquarter on weekly basis,” Iqbal said. He said that strict action will be taken if any complaint regarding corruption comes to his knowledge.
On a question regarding mala fide intention of patwaris in providing an incorrect record, he said that there was a possibility that some patwaris might be trying to foil the system.
He further said that to facilitate that citizens, PLRA was all set to launch a toll-free number which would be helpful to facilitate the citizens in a better way.