The second phase of Sindh Government’s Land Distribution Programme would start in mid-April 2010 to distribute official lands among the poor specially women as part of the government’s efforts to empower the women, said the Programme’s Project Director, Faisal Ukili. In order to make the land distribution process more transparent, the government has decided to include the representatives of civil society in it.
He expressed these views in a consultative workshop jointly organized by PDI and Oxfam GB held at a local hotel on 31 March 2010 here. Former provincial secretary Hashim Leghari, agriculture expert, Nazeer Memon, President Sindh Porhiat Harri Council Punahial Sahrio, Zulfiqar Halepoto of TRDP, Sadarudian Jatoi of UNDP , senior journalist Ishaq Mangrio, Shaheena Ramzan of Bhundar Hari Sangat and a large number of women land grantees from the different districts and others participated in the workshop. The problems being faced by women land grantees like litigation, illegal occupation, lack of proper demarcation, non-provision of promised agriculture input and non-transparent distribution of land came under deliberations in different sessions.
Some of the women complained that the government has not adopted a uniform policy for distribution of lands as certain women got announced 25 acres per women while others were granted four to eight acres. An idea was floated during the deliberations that the land distribution should take place at an open and easily accessible public place instead of Otaq (meeting place) or residences of influential personalities.
This was deemed necessary as complaints have emerged that the influential personalities allegedly allot the lands to their favourite persons. It was also complained during the workshop that certain political activists and their families belonging to ruling coalition parties were being given preferences in case of allotment of lands instead of following solely criteria of poverty. It was stressed that the poor widow women should be included in possible beneficiaries of the land distribution. It was recommended to set up ‘watchdog body’ comprising representatives of civil society, members of opposition political parties and treasury to monitor the issues arising out of the land distribution and post-land distribution problems. Welcoming the healthy and positive criticism on the government’s land policy, Mr. Ukili disclosed that the government cancelled the allotted lands in sea intrusion-affected areas of Thatta district following the study jointly carried out by the PDI and Oxfam GB. The women who were allotted land especially in Thatta districts shared their problems. The PDI Director Sikander Brohi also spoke.