Ashura concludes, encroachers return | Pakistan Today

Ashura concludes, encroachers return

LAHORE: Encroachments near imambarghas have again raised their heads owing to non-implementation of Lahore District Coordination Officer (DCO) Ahad Cheema’s orders, Pakistan Today has learnt. The encroachment mafia is back with a bang after a peaceful Ashura and this phenomenon was witnessed every year during Muharram.
Illegal extensions outside shops including food stalls, commercial vehicles, hand-pushed carts, tongas, building material and unauthorised parking stands were removed from the Mochi Gate around Nisar Haveli, the Circular Road and venues of majalis in Islampura, Allama Iqbal Town, Bibi Pakdaman shrine, Kot Lakhpat and Township. Police, town municipal officers, civil defence and City District Government Lahore (CDGL) officials had participated in razing out encroachments. During Youm-e-Ashur, a massive operation was carried out and all sensitive areas were cleared of encroachments.
Talking to Pakistan Today, Mochi Gate resident Ashfaq Gilani said that encroachers did not resist their removal, as they knew that the operation was short-term. Conversely, they cooperated with the administration, he said. “Following the conclusion of Ashura, encroachers are back with all their might,” Ashfaq said. According to a Shia organisation, Cheema had ensured that encroachments were removed permanently but the operation proved to be a show-off.
The Lahore DCO also did not bother to pressurise officials in this regard and monitor the anti-encroachment operation, the organisation alleged. The Punjab CM Inter-Faith Organisation Member Khawaja Basharat said that the situation regarding encroachments be improved to meet the longstanding demands of the people. He said that the government was taking action on complaints of the people.
Shia leader Jawad Shah said that shopkeepers had again encroached upon 10 to 15 feet space outside their shops for displaying merchandise. A CDGL official said that the main reason behind increasing encroachments was that a lot of authorities were administering civil affairs.
The city administration was being controlled by the CDGL, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), nine TMAs, cantonment boards, the Model Town Society and the DHA. He said that a single authority should check city affairs to ensure better town planning and removing encroachments.
The Mochi Gate, located near the Nisar Haveli, is a heavily congested area housing many permanent and temporary shops including encroachments. The encroachments created a difficulty for all kinds of traffic including cars and rickshaws coming from the Circular Road and vehicles remain stuck in traffic for two to three hours.
The entry point of the Mochi Gate from the Circular Road housed many shops of nuts, grams, sweets and dry fruit. A police station is also located there while offices and residential quarters are also present at the spot.
A Data Ganj Bakhsh Town official said that the Supreme Court had issued stern warnings in 2009 to provincial governments for removing all encroachments around historical places including the Nisar Haveli and Karbala Gamay Shah.
He said that the Punjab Archaeology Department had also prepared a report few years ago stating that 3,220 encroachments were present around historical monuments. Despite the fact that they were protected under the Antiquity Act 1975 and the Punjab Special Premises (Perseveration) Ordinance 1985, encroachments were present even around the main imambargh.
Shalimar Town Administrator Aamir Ahmed Khan presented a rosy picture and said that all sensitive areas had been cleared of encroachments and the situation would be the same even after Ashura.
“We got certificates from Shia clerics as confirmation that everything is up to the mark,” he said. Ravi Town Municipal Officer Ahmad Kamal said that the CDGL had cleared the Circular Road near the Nisar Haveli and Karbala Gamay Shah and all demands of clerics were met. There were complaints of presence of building material on the main Zuljinah procession route and all of it had been taken away, he said.

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