RAWALPINDI: Despite court orders and the visit of Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi of Lahore High Court (LHC) to different city markets, encroachments could not be removed as encroachers still rule almost all markets of the town.
Justice Ibadur Rehman during his surprise visit on February 3 to check anti-encroachment operations, had directed the administration to clear all encroachments from city markets and take action in accordance with the law against encroachers to provide relief to the citizens, but, the situation could not be changed and encroachments are still there.
He had directed the authorities concerned to accelerate the operation to remove encroachments from commercial areas and to clear roads and streets for vehicular movement and pedestrians. The justice had also directed the city traffic officer to disallow public service Suzuki drivers to park their vehicles in four lanes in Bara Bazaar, adding, “Only two lanes should be allowed.”
The judge had instructed the traffic police to clear the circular road and ban illegal parking of motorcycles on roads and footpaths. But the authorities concerned miserably failed to achieve the targets and could not bring a visible change particularly in commercial hubs of the town.
It is pertinent to mention here that earlier, LHC Rawalpindi Bench Justice Ibadur Rehman Lodhi had also ordered the city district government high-ups in August 2016 to implement court’s orders regarding removal of encroachments from main roads and markets.
The court had expressed annoyance over non-implementation of the orders regarding removal of encroachments from Cantt areas, Rawal and Potohar Towns, cleaning of nullahs and removal of unauthorised speed breakers on the city roads.
The citizens talking to APP said that despite the court orders, the encroachments were still visible in city and cantonment areas, particularly in thickly populated localities and on congested roads. They said that encroachments, choked nullahs, illegal parking, unauthorised speed breakers and large cat-eyes on major roads, including city and cantonment areas, were creating problems for the citizens and the authorities concerned were paying no attention towards the issues.
One can visit the city markets to observe the ground situation and check the performance of anti-encroachment staff and the authorities concerned.
The claims made by the civic authorities regarding removal of encroachments from the city and cantonment areas have proved baseless because the customers visiting different markets in the city could not find space to park their vehicles.
Encroachers have occupied footpaths creating traffic mess on major roads causing problems for the motorists as well as shoppers in different markets of the city and cantonment. The encroachers say that they have been paying ‘monthlies’ to the inspectors, hence nobody could remove their kiosks. “We are voters of the elected candidates and in case authorities tried to remove our stalls we would approach our elected members,” they said.
The encroachers have occupied roads, footpaths and open spaces in Bara Market, Namak Mandi, Narnkari Bazaar, Fawara Chowk, Trunk Bazaar, Jamia Masjid Road, Sadiqabad, Muslim Town, Commercial Market, Saidpur Road, Khayaban-e-Sir Syed, Asghar Mall Road, Ganjmandi Road, Dhoke Mangtal Road and Bagh Sardaran in the city and Tench Bhatta, Kamalabad, Dhoke Syedan, Lalkurti, Sher Zaman Colony, Chur Chowk Road, Chungi No 22, Dehri Hasanabad and Tahli Morri Chowk in the Cantonment.
When contacted, the municipal corporation and cantonment authorities claimed that they were continuously taking action against encroachers and imposing fines as well, but the encroachers were not following rules and regulations, they said.
The encroachments were increasing because of the backing of influential persons in the city, they claimed. The traders strongly condemned encroachments saying that majority of the customers avoid visiting congested markets.
“Our business activities are suffering badly because of encroachments,” they said. But, on the other hand, they were allegedly involved in this illegal activity and supporting the encroachers.
Talking to APP, the customers, motorists and pedestrians strongly condemned the encroachment mafia. “We could not even move in markets for shopping because of encroachments,” they said.