Nearly 2m acres of land usurped under Karzai: Report
KABUL (Pajhwok): A new investigative report claims nearly two million acres of land was usurped by 15,800 individuals in 18 provinces of the country under former president Hamid Karzai during the past 14 years.
The survey in three chapters and 100 pages has been prepared in three months by the Afghanistan Freedom House (AFH), an investigative institute.
The survey titled ‘The Black Season of Land Grabbing’ and ‘The Consequences of Land Grabbing in Afghanistan’ cites credible information from government and non-government organs.
The survey that interviewed 70 government officials said usurping government and private properties has a long history in Afghanistan but most of the public properties were grabbed during the last four years.
Shah Hussain Murtazawi, an AFH official, told a news conference here that they had found access to different government statistics regarding land grabs.
According the statistics provided by the Afghanistan Independent Land Authority (AILA) and Wolesi Jirga’s special commission, 1,297,000 acres of government land has been usurped, he said.
Of the land, 986,334 acres was grabbed by 15,831 people, 262,537 acres by owners of 355 townships and 30,829 acres by government organs, he said.
The AFH findings show 1,966,411 of government land has been occupied in 18 provinces alone, Murtazawi said.
Most of the land has been encroached upon in capital Kabul, Herat, Balkh, Kandahar, Nangarhar, Kunduz, Kapisa, Baghlan, Takhar, Nimroz, Khost, Logar and Ghazni provinces.
The least land has been grabbed in Nuristan, Daikundi, Paktika, Panjsher and Ghor provinces where proper ground for townships do not exist.
Murtazawi said top land grabbers included tribal elders, powerful local individuals, jihadi commanders, some political parties leaders, village leaders, influential figures, investors, mayors, Afghan National Army (ANA) officers, lawmakers, provincial council members, governors and former ministers.
These individuals have changed the usurped land into townships, residential areas, buildings, market places, fuel stations, warehouses, gardens and farming areas, he added.
The survey shows the land which has been usurped belongs to even mosques, education sector, kindergartens, cinemas and graveyards.
Weak law enforcement, no follow up of cases of land grabbers, immunity enjoyed by powerful individuals and land grabbers, increase in value of land, administrative corruption and corrupt judicial organs have been cited as main reasons behind the massive land grabbing under former president Hamid Karzai.
The survey says land grabbing has irrecoverable consequences as it creates hurdles to implementation of development plans, violates human rights, triggers disputes among tribes and destroys historical sites.
The AFH also provided 17 suggestions based on their findings to the government and relevant organs.
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