LAHORE: Following the directives of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Ali Akbar Qureshi, the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) has launched an anti-encroachment operation from Monday, in order to remove all temporary and permanent encroachments from the walled city area, Pakistan Today has learnt.
As per the plan prepared by the WCLA, the anti-encroachment drive would be a month-long operation, in which the permanent and temporary encroachments would be sealed or demolished whereas notices have also been served to all the encroachers for removing encroachments on their own in order to avoid any financial loss, damage and disturbance on location.
According to sources, the encroachments inside the city had increased over the course of time as no one kept a check on them. They were of the view that WCLA had also removed the encroachers from Shahi Hammam and Chowk Wazir Khan but they were still seen there and no one could remove them from those places because of a strong mafia being behind them.
Sources informed that 53 encroachments from Shahi Hammam and 72 from Wazir Khan Chowk and its northern wall were removed but the temporary encroachments were still present.
They added that the encroachments around the tourist attractions also had a negative impact on the tourists, especially foreigners, as the encroachers had covered the area and it was difficult for the tourists to move around. They said that encroachers had also damaged the original fabric of the historic sites in the city and a there was a dire need to have a strict control over them.
An official of WCLA, on the condition of anonymity, told Pakistan Today that they had previously conducted almost 19 operations whereas a few could not be completed due to lack of cooperation by the police, but now they were also on board and would be extending support as per the directions of the LHC judge.
The official further said that all the operations regarding removal of encroachments would be monitored by commissioners, deputy commissioners, assistant commissioners, LDA and WCLA. They added that this time WCLA would not be sparing any encroachers as they were bringing a bad name to the authority and the field officers.
WCLA Conservation & Building Control Director Najamus Saqib said they would not be tolerating any encroachments from now onwards and were being supported by the LHC in this regard. “The team of building control has marked all the encroachments and we would be taking actions against them. We have already informed the encroachers that if they want to remove their encroachments on their own they may do so to avoid any loss.”
He also said that WCLA was working to save the heritage and original fabric of the city and removing the encroachments was one of the main tasks.