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1,200 people grabbing 125,000 acres of Balkh land

1,200 people grabbing 125,000 acres of Balkh land

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Aug 05, 2017 - 16:51

MAZAR-I-SHARIF (Pajhwok): Nearly 125,000 acres of land has been usurped in northern Balkh province during the past one and a half decades, a public representative said Saturday.

Balkh provincial council head, Dr. Mohammad Afzal Hadid, told Pajhwok Afghan News that land grabbing had been ongoing in Balkh for the three decades but the process gained momentum one and half a decade ago.

He said 125,000 acres of government and private land had been grabbed in Mazar-i-Sharif, the provincial capital and districts by 1,200 people mostly powerful individuals. However, Hadid named no one.

Balkh residents also said land grabbing began with the emergence of war in the country.

Haji Abdullah, a resident of Balkh district, said most of pastures in the district had been occupied by powerful figures.

He said 100 acres of pastures land was grabbed by strongmen in Piaz Karo village of the district in recent past. Abdullah asked the government to take serious steps at retaking usurped land.

However, civil societyinfo-icon activists said that government’s efforts to recover grabbed land had failed because they believed government officials themselves were involved in the saga.

Civil society activist, Ghulam Rassoul, said not only in Balkh, but in the whole of the country public and private land had been usurped by government officials or people having connections with them.

“Land grabbing directly impacts people’s economic life and that is the reason people have lost trust in the government, he said.

Local officials confirmed land grabbing in Balkh, but not at the level as claimed, saying said the issue was being exaggerated.

Governor’s spokesman, Munir Farhad, said land grabbing was ongoing in Afghanistaninfo-icon since 1991.

He confirmed land grabbing but said the figures given were exaggerated. “The local government has fought against land grabbers since years and the struggle is still underway,” he added.

Citing an example, he said 40,000 acres of usurped land was retaken in Balkh in 2016. He said efforts would continue until all usurped land in Balkh was recovered.

mds/ma

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