According to the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on climate change, negligence and lack of ownership of the previous government led to the encroachment of resource-rich forest lands in major cities. Approximately 700,000 acres of forest land were currently under illegal occupation, covering about 9.4% of the total forest area (7,413,161 acres).
The encroached lands, valued at Rs500 billion, have been converted into residential societies and commercial areas, causing irreversible environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity, and increasing public health woes. In Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), around 160,000 acres of state land have been encroached. The encroached state land is highest in Sindh province. Maps belonging to Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan provinces have been prepared by the Survey of Pakistan. Preparation of maps of encroached forest lands in Sindh was delayed because of information delay from the provincial concerned authorities. Karachi Forest Division has already turned into a concrete jungle. Its forest area has now shrunk to 0.4% at the hands of land grabbers.
The government has announced action to put an end to the illegal encroachment of state lands across the country. The encroached forest land needs to recover soon as it has the potential to increase existing forest cover from 5pc to 8pc.
The digitization process can reduce the corrupt practices of land grabbers. Cadastral mapping plays in favour of the state because it helps in improving calculating tax on properties as well as its collection mechanism. The mapping will also help people with the valuation of land and identifying the dimensions of a property.