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EditorialBillion-dollar question about encroached land 

Billion-dollar question about encroached land 

Every inch of the country is precious, but only to the land grabbers who know its value. Lately, the government has been awakening to this reality as well. Prime Minister Imran Khan and his team have worked towards the development of digital mapping of Pakistan’s land so as to know about the ownership and rights of land. This digitization has come after the much controversial electronic voting machine laws. If used properly, the system being developed can be highly beneficial as encroachments can be significantly reduced and justice can prevail.

According to the figures shared by the prime minister at a meeting last week, the total value of all encroached state land and those in the three major cities stands at approximately Rs5.5 trillion. He also pointed out that this cadastral land mapping was an unwelcome step taken by the government as many of the mafias are of those who have seats in the parliament. With this mapping it will be easier to see who is facing injustice and who is causing it. Moreover, much of the land which is categorized as a forest cover has also been encroached upon and this has been quite damaging to the environment. If this mapping goes as planned and further steps are taken to retrieve the land lost to mafias, much can be recovered.

With a looming climate crisis, it is imperative that forests are saved. With the forest cover intact, many problems related to water crisis, flooding, etc. will be taken care of. However, if this land is not recovered and mafias continue to lay siege, they may reduce the forests and that may prove to be fatal for the current and future generations.

A lot of encroached or otherwise land in urban areas is also left idle. This land, after retrieval, can be sold off to the public or used by the government for various purposes. The asset has a huge monetary value and selling off will aid the government in its future endeavors if the money is used in a proper manner. It can also be used by the government to develop infrastructure that may help reduce problems faced by the urban population.

Such digitization ventures by the government must be appreciated as they will guarantee transparency which is an imminent need of the hour. The same way, such digital endeavours should be taken in other fields as well. Having digital data leads to several avenues of solution to problems.

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