Row over Torkham terminal land acquisition simmers – Pakistan

KHYBER: The dispute over acquisition of land for the state-of-the-art customs terminal on the Pak-Afghan border at Torkham continues to simmer as development work paces forward to finish the undertaking by the tip of this 12 months.

Khuga Khel tribe elders allege that the Federal Board of Income (FBR), with whom they’d initially signed an settlement on the supply of over 300 kanals of their collective land close to the Torkham border for the development of the terminal, had redesigned its construction and likewise ‘grabbed’ over 400 kanals of extra land with out their consent.

With the FBR opting to remain within the background, the tribal elders ‘pointed their weapons’ on the Nationwide Logistic Cell (NLC) because it was awarded the contract and current on floor to execute the development plan.

Mufti Ejaz, a spokesman for the ‘aggrieved’ Khuga Khel tribesmen and a senior JUI-F chief, insisted that they had been by no means taken into confidence concerning the revised plan of the customs terminal and the following encroachment of over 400 kanals of extra land.

Tribe accuses FBR of ‘grabbing’ extra 400 kanals with out consent; NLC says not a single inch of land to be utilised unlawfully

He mentioned the Khuga Khel tribe and the residents of Khyber district weren’t towards the development of the terminal as it could present the much-needed employment alternatives to the native folks and provides impetus to bilateral commerce with Afghanistan. They solely demanded ‘honest deal’ concerning the acquisition of any extra land for the aim, he added.

The Khuga Khel tribesmen had throughout a protest rally in Landi Kotal on March 12 threatened to forcibly cease the terminal’s development if their grievances weren’t addressed inside per week. They, nonetheless, didn’t muster the required energy to materialise their ‘menace’ after the expiry of the deadline and opted for a negotiated settlement of the difficulty.

Nisar Ahmad, a Khuga Khel elder and member of the nine-member negotiating committee, nonetheless, advised Daybreak that the difficulty was lengthy resolved and any criticism or reservations over the revised settlement with the federal government had been uncalled for and was of ‘no significance’. He mentioned 5 of the 9 members of the negotiating group had consented to the supply of extra 404 kanals of their collective land to the FBR and thus there was no query of ‘disputing the settlement’ and sabotaging the development of the customs terminal.

Daybreak tried to succeed in the FBR officers involved for his or her feedback on the revised plan of the terminal and the acquisition of extra land, however they didn’t reply to repeated queries.

When approached for feedback on a part of the NLC, Abdul Aziz Khattak, the organisation’s basic supervisor in Torkham, advised Daybreak that not a single inch of the Khuga Khel land can be occupied or utilised for the under-construction terminal with out lawful authority.

He, nonetheless, mentioned that as per NLC’s data, there was a distinction of some 16 kanals of land after the signing of the revised settlement and that too can be ‘sorted out’ with revised charges sooner or later of time.

He additionally clarified that the principle freeway passing by way of the centre of the customs terminal was the property of Nationwide Highways Authority, whereas pure stream falling inside the terminal’s jurisdiction was state property and there have been additionally some particular person house owners of among the land acquired for the terminal who had been duly compensated.

Mr Khattak insisted that the NLC with FBR help would conduct the ultimate measurement of the terminal upon its completion by the tip of this 12 months and all stakeholders, together with the Khuga Khel elders, can be invited to see the precise measurement of the terminal premises. He acknowledged that some extra land was acquired because the drawing of the terminal was revised after extra services had been added to it on the request of the Khuga Khel elders and native merchants, transporters and customs clearing brokers.

“Let the undertaking be accomplished peacefully and if something present in extra of the written settlement, it could be duly compensated with none delay”, he mentioned whereas responding to repeated objections and protests by the tribesmen.

Explaining the salient options of the terminal, he mentioned that underneath the process, customs clearance of loaded autos can be finished underneath a one-window system whereas items declaration process may very well be carried out by way of web underneath the WebBasedOne Customized system by the importers and exporters from any a part of the nation or overseas.

“The terminal, which might be of a global normal and can present all the fundamental services to merchants, transporters and customs officers, can be accomplished and absolutely operational by the tip of 2023”, Mr Khattak advised Daybreak.

The brand new terminal can have a cumulative parking facility for at the least 500 autos which is able to massively minimise site visitors mess on the principle Peshawar-Torkham freeway.

“The terminal can also be designed to supply speedy passenger immigration course of, environment friendly cargo checking and dealing with alongside e-lanes for even quicker clearance and a sufficiently giant parking area for at the least 500 vans awaiting clearance,” he mentioned.

Although the thought of setting up the much-needed terminal was conceived in 2003, the development work was delayed until 2015 because of the safety state of affairs within the area and likewise a row over the acquisition of the required land which was owned by the Khuga Khel sub-tribe of Landi Kotal.

The development, when lastly began seven years in the past, confronted many hurdles and delays brought on by the protests held by the Khuga Khel tribe towards the phrases and situations for acquisition of the required land.

Revealed in Daybreak, April third, 2023

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