Land measuring 85 acres belonging to the provincial Agriculture and Livestock Department of northern Balkh province has been unlawfully seized, the department head complained on Monday.
Vowing to reclaim the grabbed land, Katib Shams told Pajhwok Afghan News that 375 jirbs or 187 acres of land owned by the agriculture department was dedicated to an agriculture farm in 1963. But development works on the project could not be launched due to the unrest those days, he recalled.
“Later political developments in the 1990s enabled local warlords to occupy 340 jirbs of the land and they built an illegal colony named Zara’at Karta on it”, Shams lamented.
He added another piece of land measuring 200 acres was allotted for research purposes, but 15 acres of the land was lost to land-grabbers in 1994.
The agriculture director claimed his department had managed to reclaim some 170 jirbs over the past three years.
He informed 20 acres of a grazing land had also been retaken from its illegal occupants in Nehr-i-Shahi area and 55 acres near Khulm district and Hairatan Township.
He admitted large swaths of public land remained occupied by powerful individuals, who had constructed residential blocks on the plots using forged documents.
Shams said land belonging to his department was last surveyed in 1976 during President Mohammed Daud Khan’s government, but later no government had done any survey.
“Now it is a daunting task to recover illegally occupied lands,” Shams remarked.
He, however, said the state properties could be reclaimed if the central government paid attention to the problem.