Patwaris: Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em - Pakistan Today

Patwaris: Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em

–Patwaris to remain part and parcel of revenue department

–Govt to induct computer literate patwaris, eliminate munshi culture

LAHORE: Despite tall claims of eliminating patwari culture, the Punjab government is planning to once again award the powers of land mutation, demarcation and management to the patwaris through tactful ways.

Sources in the Board of Revenue (BoR) informed this scribe that land mutation powers were taken from patwaris when the data was digitised and the powers were instead shifted to assistant directors land records (ADLRs) of the Punjab Land Record Authority (PLRA).

Since the land record has been digitized, the services of issuance of fard (land record document), mutation and verifications were the being provided by service centres which were established by PLRA in different districts of Punjab while the patwaris’ powers were limited to demarcation of land and field surveys.

Sources said that some high-ups of the BoR and influential bureaucrats closely allied to patwaris were trying to them back in power for their own interests because the patwaris are liable to share bribes at all levels.

Sources revealed that the plan aims to empower the patwaris at the kanungoi level for example if there are two kanungois in one estate then one would remain with the service centre and the other with the patwari.

Sources added that previously, the Punjab government had denied the plan but now planning for the same is being done secretly through different channels.

A dubious letter about ‘Provision of Services at The Revenue Estate Level’ in the same context has also been written by the BoR secretary to all divisional commissioners in Punjab. “I am directed to convey that as discussed in the video link conference held on January 15, 2020, under the chairmanship of senior member, BoR, Punjab, and as informed earlier two kanungois in each division in two separate tehsils have been identified for the issuance of computerised fards, entry and updating of revenue record at the revenue estate level,” the letter read.

“The divisional commissioners/deputy commissioners were requested to identify the available government buildings and make necessary arrangements for the provision of essential equipment i.e. computers, printers, scanners and internet facilities, etc. for the purpose,” the letter added.

“It is, therefore, requested that the necessary arrangements for the above-mentioned services at the revenue estate level must be ensured by Monday i.e. March 3, 2020. Board of Revenue (BoR)/PLRA will subsequently provide the requisite paraphernalia/equipment under a development scheme,” the letter further stated.

“I am further directed to convey that teams from the Punjab BoR will visit the centres to observe the functionality of these facilities,” the letter concluded.

When contacted, PLRA Director General Moazzam Iqbal Sipra was of the opinion that since the last 12 years, patwaris have not been recruited. “There are 4,000 seats vacant for patwaris and almost 2,500 to 3,000 patwaris are presently working while most of them are near retirement. Maybe the very few literate ones would be included in the integrated system but we are not sure about it as only the pilot plan has been planned for this system,” he said.

However, Punjab Revenue Minister Malik Muhammad Anwar, while speaking to this scribe, agreed to the integration of patwaris in the planned system. Justifying the importance of patwaris, he said, “Until now many of the tasks related to land are being carried out through patwaris. They are not just doing one job rather they are multitaskers. They are responsible for the demarcation of land because only they know the techniques of measurement of land. Similarly, they conduct khasra girdawari (harvest inspection) on the ground after every six months and also verify inheritance mutation because they only have the shajra (detailed village map that is used for legal and administrative purposes) and without their verification, no inheritance mutation can be approved.”

“For better coordination and integration in the system, it is being planned to divide proper work among the service centres and patwaris because service centre officials usually sit in their offices while patwaris are always out in the field, which creates a lack of coordination. To resolve the problem, we are devising a pilot project to bring the patwari in power,” he added.

“Patwari word is just being used as a pejorative term otherwise designation like village officers, etc. are being given to them. The patwari cadre is dying because many have retired, some are near retirement and since long there has been no induction in this field. The plan is that the staff sitting inside service centres would be used in the field like patwaris were working because they have technical equipment,” he maintained.

“The patwaris working with us have to be assigned with some work, therefore, they will have to continue working. According to the plan, we will prefer the computer literate patwari who is able to manage the digitise mechanism,” he further said.

“PLRA and patwaris will be integrated as one. There are two systems running parallel at present. ADLR and patwaris are both doing the same work of land mutation, the only difference is that one is doing it in a digitised manner while the other has a manual system. Being systems operating under one roof will have a good impact on accountability because the ADLR located in far flung areas has no check and balance on them and this causes administrative problems,” he maintained.

“The SCOs are doing the same job as patwaris but have no training or understanding of land matters because they have not done patwar courses. These SCOs should have hands-on knowledge of this because all the works whether manual or digitised are according to the Land Revenue Act and have the same technicalities,” he added.

He said that all the patwaris will not be the part of the integration system and only the ones with computer and IT knowledge will be inducted upon the set criteria.

When asked about the culture of Patwar Khana after empowering the patwari, the minister said, “The traditional Patwar Khanas will be transformed into computer centres. The patwari or village officer will have a staff and the munshi culture will also be eliminated,” he added.

Speaking about changing the mind sets of patwaris, he said, “We always talk about the patwari mindset or culture but actually we could not change the mindsets of station house officers (SHO) or Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA) linemen.”

“However, we are trying to change the system,” he concluded.