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    Ownership of land alloted for hospital disputed

    JALALABAD (PAN): Residents of the Rodat district in eastern Nangarhar province claim ownership of a piece of land that Governor Gul Agha Sherzai has allotted for the construction of a mega hospital.

    The claim came days after Deputy Public Health Minister Najia Tariq announced the construction of a 1,000-bed hospital in Nangarhar.

    She told a graduation ceremony for midwives in Jalalabad the proposed hospital would be built in the Hesar-i-Shahi desert.  Sherzai said his administration had allotted 200 acres of land for the project.

    But Maulvi Saifur Rahman, a tribal elder from the Baro area of Rodat, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Sherzai had talked about the land that belonged to residents.

    "People have bought 4,000 plots in the desert and so far the government has distributed 2,000 to buyers," he claimed, explaining the land for hospital was a residential property owned by locals.

    The elder said residents had purchased plots, but the government was yet to distribute them, threatening to resume protests if their plots were used for government projects.

    "We will once again stage protests if the government fails to address our concerns," he said.

    Another resident, Yahya, said some residents had lost their lives as result of a dispute over the land they had purchased. "We will not allow anybody to usurp our rights," the resident vowed.

    But the governor's spokesman, Ahmad Zia Abdulzai, said the hospital project was a mega scheme that would cover most of Nangarhar's population, saying that Sherzai would do all he could to implement the plan.

    He said if Rodat residents had any ownership documents, they should share them with the provincial administration.