Land scams worth millions


Al-Madina newspaper

ABOUT seven months ago, Al-Eqtisadiah business daily published a piece of news about the Ministry of Justice canceling the title deed for a plot of land measuring 35 million square meters in Najran.

The plot was returned to the state after it was proved that the land was illegally occupied by private individuals in violation of land regulations in the country.

The report also mentioned that the minister of justice issued the decision to cancel the deed after looking into an appeal by a court in Asir province. The deed was annulled because the plot was public owned and the deed was issued by way of a direct order, which contravened a royal decree in this regard.

This week the Makkah newspaper published another report saying the Ministry of Justice canceled illegal title deeds for plots measuring a total of 568 million square meters in various parts of the Kingdom. The total area of these plots is equal to the entire city of Madinah and is sufficient to build 140,000 villas worth millions of riyals.

The report pointed out that the minister issued a decision to cancel eight deeds that were forged to claim ownership of 352.32 million square meters of public land in Riyadh.

The move came after electronic monitoring of notary statements and official land records, as well as investigations by responsible bodies into forgery of land deeds. The annulment decision also applied to deeds for 22 million square meters of land in Jeddah that were obtained illegally.

Millions of square meters of land seized by land thieves with the help of forged deeds in a number of regions in the Kingdom was retrieved by the ministry.

Meanwhile, according to a report published by Okaz newspaper, owners of 20,000 plots of land in northeast Jeddah raised their grievances before Jeddah Municipality after the ministerial order revoking land grants.

Despite the fact that these people had been issued legal deeds by the Ministry of Justice and the municipality had awarded the plots to those who deserve them, the heirs of a previous owner filed a complaint asking the ministry to reexamine the deeds for a plot of measuring more than 60 million square meters.

The land scams worth millions of riyals is a major issue that the National Anti-Corruption Commission must look into. All stolen public land must be returned to the government and the criminals involved in stealing them should be punished.