The ombudswoman has advised authorities to offer redress to a woman to whom the government offered a pittance of state land in exchange for her own expropriated land.
In 1985 the government expropriated the woman’s land, offering her in exchange a parcel of state land of equal value, as required by law.
However the Department of Lands and Surveys did not generate a valuation for the state land until 2013 – by which time the price per square meter of the state land in question had soared.
As a result, the woman was offered a mere 24 square metres of state land, whereas her own land measures 1,000 square meters.
She refused the offer, leaving the transaction in limbo.
The woman subsequently filed a complaint with the ombudswoman’s office.
The Department of Lands and Surveys attributed the huge delay in providing a valuation to a bureaucratic mix-up over the status of the land to be given as compensation to the woman.
The department claimed that while the land to be given in exchange was designated as forest land, it was not informed of this and as a consequence it had followed different procedures relating to handling state land requests.
In her findings, ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides said authorities were solely to blame for the “injustice” against the complainant.
She has directed authorities to provide redress “that corresponds to the fair market value [to which the complainant is entitled to] had the relevant administration acted within a reasonable timeframe and made a timely assessment of the complainant’s application.”
Lottides said the relevant government departments should take corrective action as soon as possible, so that the woman’s application quickly comes before the cabinet.