1,856 illegal structures on ETPB’s land identified


–125 acres of ETPB owned land in Phoolnagar sold out by influentials over past 20 years

–Officials say board gearing up to retrieve land from illegal occupancy

LAHORE: As many as 1,856 structures, including houses, shops, havelis and commercial buildings, stretched over 125 acres and owned by the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB), have been identified in the Phoolnagar city of Kasur district as illegally occupied by either locals or influential persons, Pakistan Today has learnt.

According to sources, the land, total worth of which adds up to billions of rupees, is under illegal occupation for the past two decades whereas no past chairmen or any other officials of the board have ever taken any action to retrieve it.

“The locals and influential persons of Phoolnagar occupied the land and sold it to others in portions of 2, 5 or 10 marlas,” they said and added that amid the helplessness of previous chairmen and other high-ups of ETPB against the powerful land mafia, rapid illegal constructions were witnessed in the area.

“ETPB’s land cannot be sold, and there are allotment categories under which it can be allocated by the chairman for a certain period of time. Moreover, it can be leased out under commercial, residential or agricultural categories, but the tenant has to pay the board its rent.”

“After the recent orders of the Supreme Court regarding reclamation of state land from illegal occupants, ETPB has compiled a report of all the illegal structures constructed on land it owns,” sources said, adding that thousands of kanals of ETPB’s land are illegally occupied in the Kasur district as well and the board officials would now finally have to take some decision with respect to getting it vacated.

They further said that initially, ETPB was trying to make all illegal occupants its tenants by issuing them notices and warning them to pay their respective rents, however, they added, in case of non-compliance, the ETPB administration would seal the properties and retrieve the land.

“We are working to retrieve ETPB’s land and structures that are illegally occupied for the past 20 years. Some influential persons, including political players, misused this land without seeking an approval from the board,” Lahore administrator Wahab Shah informed Pakistan Today.

The board does not want to make people homeless and so has served them notices according to which they can join ETPB under a rental contract, he said and added that the board would not be left with any other option other than taking an action against them to get the land vacated if the occupants do not abide by the notice.

ETPB spokesperson Amir Hashmi said that Kasur deputy administrator of the board, Uzma Shahzadi, on Friday carried out a massive operation with the support of police and district administration.

“A one-kanal plaza having 26 shops was sealed during the operation on Main Phoolnagar Road near the Multan Road. We have also devised a massive and comprehensive plan for the removal of encroachments on ETPB land and will get it retrieved at the earliest,” he added.