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Punjab Government Leases One Million Acres of Agricultural Land to Pakistan Army

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By Anwer Hussain Sumra (An Investigative Journalist)

The Punjab government has decided to lease out one million agricultural lands to Pakistan Army under the banner of the Corporate Agriculture Farming (CAF) scheme for 20 years on profit sharing basis. The provincial cabinet with the chief minister Punjab in chair has formally approved the lease of land as a single source basis under joint venture and initially, 12,221 acres of land will be provided for pilot project in five districts of the province.
According to the investigation conducted by this scribe and documents, in February 2022, the Punjab government approved Corporate Agriculture Farming with the objectives that the state land may be leased out for agriculture research and farming, import substitution, food security, standardization and maximization of seed productivity, livestock research, breeding and farming, and for any other purpose relating to the agriculture or livestock sector as deemed appropriate by the government. In February 2023, the Director Lands, Pakistan Army, had requested the Punjab government to the provision of one million acres of state land to ensure food security. The Pakistan Army to support its demand also sent a framework indicating that the Pakistan Army has a fleet of well-trained manpower which relies on the latest farming techniques, technology and tools to remain focused on greater yield, seed quality, water management and organic farming.

The Punjab government constituted a high-power committee with the chief secretary in chair to negotiate terms and conditions with Pakistan Army. The committee was empowered to add/delete land owned by the various provincial departments, to the extent of one million acres, depending upon the suitability as well as commercial potential. Sign a management agreement with the Pakistan Army with mutually negotiated terms and conditions while remaining within the framework of the terms and conditions for corporate agriculture farming. Further, a board of management for the joint venture was proposed with four members headed by the Adjutant General and nine members of Punjab headed by Chief Secretary Punjab. After preparing the Statement of Conditions, the issue was placed before the standing committee of the cabinet on legislative business for approval and later to the cabinet, which was approved.

An official of BoR said that later Pakistan Army sent a proposed arrangement with the salient features; Pakistan Army has identified 12221 acres of land in five districts (Sahiwal, Khushab, Layyah, DG Khan and Muzaffargarh) as a pilot project, 84350 acres of land in other 13 districts and additional land in Cholistan area. It was further proposed that 20 percent of the profit would be used for research and development and the remaining would be shared 50:50 among both stakeholders. On these proposed arrangements, the board of revenue proposed a management agreement that the land shall be leased to the Pakistan Army on a single source basis under clause 5 of the terms and conditions for CF under CPEC. The lease period shall be 20 years, extendable further for 10 years. The leased land shall be utilized purely for corporate agriculture farming only. The board of management shall approve all the policies for the utilization of land, including its commercial and research use. The government of Punjab will provide land as any equity and the Pakistan Army will make all investments on the land.

He further said that according to the proposed statements of condition prepared by the Board of Revenue Punjab, the government might grant a lease of state land placed on the schedule on a single source basis without any auction proceedings to departments of the federal or provincial government, their attached departments, semi-attached department, autonomous bodies and institutions.

The Punjab government has decided that the state land in various districts lying unutilized or with illegal occupants would be handed over to Pakistan Army by after a joint survey. The lessee will grow main crops like wheat, cotton, sugarcane, rice and maize. Apart from these cash crops, a number of vegetables and fruits, including potato, mustard, canola, guava, mango, orange, kinnow and another citrus various would also be grown on these lands.
He said the provincial cabinet with the chief minister Punjab in chair in its 7th meeting, had approved the request of the Pakistan Army for the lease of state land on a single source basis and now modalities are being finalized for further developments by the Board of Management.

The writer can be reached @AnwerHSumra

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