An Study conducted on the issues in the land distribution program of Sindh government has disclosed that above 50 percent of women land grantees of the program are still without legal land ownership documents, while in some cases influential people have occupied the land granted to the women due to lack of proper follow up support to the land grantees by the government.
The study titled “Sindh Government’s Land Distribution Program: Issues and Challenges” conducted by Participatory Development Initiatives (PDI) with the support of Oxfam GB was launched on Wednesday, 10 December 2009 in a local hotel of Karachi. Oxfam GB Country Director Ms Neva Khan presided over the launching ceremony which was participated by a number of civil society activists, elected representatives, experts and government officials.
While presenting the study findings, Sikander Brohi Director PDI said that although Sindh Government, at the provincial level, had taken a number of policy decisions and initiatives to ensure the process of the land distribution fare, however, those policy decisions were not implemented in actual spirit at the district level. He said that according to the study Sindh Government had formed Steering Committee at provincial level to oversee the process and had issued strict instructions that such joint land distribution committees of different stakeholders should be formed at district level and the land identified for the distribution should be free from all the issues, cultivable and a proper criteria should be implemented for the identification of the land grantees. However, he said that unfortunately at the district level the process was not participatory as only the Revenue Department was key player and other stakeholders were not taken onboard. As a result, in many cases the land identified for the distribution was uncultivable, pieces of graveyards, sand dunes and waterlogged. According to the findings, the process of the identification of the beneficiaries was also flawed as in many cases; land was allotted to the relatives and the people of the clan of the political influential persons. In some cases, poor land grantees have received very small portions of land like one and half and two acres while the women belonging to influential families have received more than even 15 acres. According to the study a large number of women could not get benefit of the program due to the improper publicity for the land distribution as open katcharies for the distribution of land were held in the otaqs of the influential persons.
Discussing the post land distribution issues, Mr. Brohi said, the study has identified the no issuance of legal ownership documents to the land grantees as one of the key issues. As in place of legal document there is only simple allotment lists or letters that has loomed a serious on the heads women that lest their land allotments may be cancelled and given to any other influential women. The study has documented many cases in which, the land given to one woman has been cancelled without reason and re-allotted to the other woman. The study said that due to the lack of demarcation of land issuance of land ownership documents (form -7) in many cases influential persons have either occupied the land granted to women or have filed appeals in the Revenue Department against the land granted stopping the women from cultivating that lands.
The study has recommended to the government to issue land ownership documents to all the land grantees without delay, make the second phase of the land distribution process more participatory and bring changes in the legal framework to ensure sustainable ownership of the land by the women.
While speaking on this occasion, Ms Neva Khan Country Director Oxfam GB said that Oxfam is working for the rights of the poor and marginalized communities and that is why Oxfam decided to support the local communities in the land distribution process in Sindh through its partner organization PDI. She expressed hope that Sindh Government would take serious notice of the flaws in the land distribution program identified in the study and would make efforts to rectify such flaws. She demanded to the government to start the second phase of the land distribution without any fail.
Speaking on this occasion Humera Alwani MPA said that the elected representatives have been kept ignorant of the whole process of land distribution. She demanded that the elected representatives should be given proper presentation on the program and they should be taken into confidence and onboard in the process of implementation. She said that due to the lack of participation of the elected representatives there have been serious flaws in the program, not only uncultivable land has been distributed among the poor women, but influential people have got land alloted in the name of their clan and family women and even in the name of their women servants.
While giving the government view point on the land distribution program Subhan Memon, Secretary Land Utilization said that certainly flaws have occurred in the program implementation; however, the program cannot be termed as complete failure. He said that about 65 land grantees are genuine and have been cleared from the issues and been provided with seed and other inputs through the RSPNs for the cultivation of the land and only 35 percent land distribution cases are problematic. He said that we have learnt a lot from the process in the first phase and would soon launch the second phase with more clear and further improved legal framework and implementation mechanisms. He said that Sindh government acknowledges the support of the civil society in improving this program and any contribution in his regard will highly be welcome. The event was also addressed by Faisal Uqaili, Program Coordinator Landless Haris Program and others.