Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had promised his party would digitize the land and revenue records in all provinces if came into power.
Addressing a public rally in Haripur in May, 2013, Khan said that PTI wanted to digitize the land and revenue records across the country and resolve all the disputes related to lands and properties from courts, as was done in the era of British Raj.
Besides reiterating the promise in election rallies, the PTI’s manifesto had also listed digitization of land and revenue records as a priority agenda item on page 24, under the title of “Land Reforms”.
Cleansing the revenue department of corruption and ending Patwari culture by computerizing all the records were popular slogans of PTI leaders during campaigns in the run-up to May 11 elections.
In an attempt to streamline the affairs of revenue department, the PMLN- led provincial administration in Punjab first initiated a project on June 18, 2012 known as Land Records Management Information System (LRMIS).
Keeping in view the rampant corruption in the revenue and land department, the Supreme Court also issued directives last year to all the provinces to digitize records of the land and revenue system within three months.
The former Awami National Party (ANP)-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwan (KP) also launched the digitization of land records but failed to complete the project due to hurdles put forward by the corrupt mafia in the process.
Truth Tracker approached Ali Amin Gandapur, provincial minister for Land and Revenue, who said that computerization of land and revenue has already been set in motion.
“The phase-1 of our land and revenue computerization process is almost complete. We have started the process from Mardan, a district in KP but at the same time we are facing some hurdles because we do not have our buildings for the purpose,” Gandapur noted.
He said land digitization has now been started in the sprawling Peshawar City and the process would be started from December, this year, in Dera Ismail Khan, another southern district of the province.
“We have 12 districts in phase-1 and seven districts in phase-2 to carry out the process in an organized way but we are facing problems of buildings to establish centers,” he added.
Gandapur said: “The land and revenue computerization process has been started in Punjab for the last 28 years, which is still ongoing. We will finalize 100% of land documentation within our tenure while rest of the task will automatically be done with the passage of time.”
Sayed Jaffar Shah, Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Awami National Party (ANP), said nothing like land and revenue computerization could be seen on the ground except tall claims by the provincial government.
He said it is on record that the process was initiated by the previous ANP government and the PTI government wants to take credit for that but today “you see for yourself the state of health, education, rampant corruption in revenue and Billion Tree Tsunami campaign.”
“There is none to probe into the widespread corruption of PTI. These all are jokes with the voters,” Shah remarked.
Fakhar Azam Wazir, MPA from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), said PTI has so far carried out 15% work to computerize the land and revenue sectors but that too was full of flaws and deficiencies.
“It’s totally a futile exercise because the process does not exist in 85% areas of the province,” Wazir remarked.
He said unfortunately the KP revenue sector is on lead in terms of corruption because heavy bribery is being taken and given on posting and transfers of revenue officials such as Patwaris.
“It is nearly impossible the PTI will complete the land computerization task within their tenure, which will expire later next year,” he added.
Abdul Karim, former special assistant to chief minister for industries who is from Qoumi Wattan Party (QWP) said PTI has started efforts to streamline the land and revenue sectors.
“The provincial government has kicked-off the process from Mardan district but yes there are some problems impeding the process,” he added.
He said a building for land and revenue computerization is being built in his constituency and the process to regulate land records would set in the process soon.
INDEPENDENT VIEW point
Pakistan has a centuries-old system of managing the land and revenue records. In this system, most of the powers related to land and revenue are concentrated in the hands of a lowest-level official of the revenue departments known as Patwari.
Patwari has the sole responsibility for assessing, collecting agriculture revenue, recording inheritance, handling sale and transfer of land and maintaining all records of its area of jurisdiction.
Ibrash Pasha, a Peshawar based independent analyst, recalled there were funds allocation in the previous ANP and the current PTI-led governments for proper management of land and revenue records but so far tangible steps could not be taken to complete the direly needed project.
For example, he said in Malakand region, no official could be appointed for the job and it seems that completion of the much-needed land computerization record would take years.
He said the government should have completed the land and revenue digitization process long before because there are serious land disputes in former states such as Swat, Dir and Buner, keeping pressure on courts.
“The government should prioritize the land computerization but it needs time, energy and resources,” he added.
He does not think the PTI-led government would complete the process in its tenure that is going to expire next year.
In the light of comments, views and analysis by the ruling and opposition lawmakers and independent analyst, the computerization of land record and revenue sector is moving ahead but with snail’s pace.
Truth Tracker rules that the PTI’s promise to computerize the land and revenue records stands compromised and the provincial government is unable to complete the process within its tenure.