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Construction continues unabated along Pindi`s drains

By Aamir Yasin 2017-05-12
RAWALPINDI: The Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC), Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and the district administration seem to be turning a blind eye to the construction of houses and commercial buildings on the banks of the drains in the city.

In April 2003, the Rawalpindi district coordination officer directed the now defunct City District Government Rawalpindi to remove all encroachments from nullah banks and convert them into green belts. The directives were not implemented nor were they cancelled. Officials in the RMC building branch continue to approve the construction of buildings without visiting the site or whether it is on the bank of a nullah.

After the flood in Leh Nullah in 2001, the RDA had acquired the land along the drain and along the smaller drains in the city for the construction of roads on both sides, which is yet to bedone.

The bank of the nullah between Dhoke Hassu and Gali Loharanhasbeenencroachedon in many places and one can see construction on the banks of Nullah Moti Mehal on Liaquat Road, near Nishat Cinema, Gowalmandi, Ratta Amral, Dhoke Dalal, Khayaban-i-Sir Syed and adjoining areas, with the windows of many houses opening towards the drain.

Most people have constructed retaining walls along drains after establishing houses and commercial buildings on its banks. Some local politicians have also constructed a hotel on the banks of this drain claiming they were permitted to do so by the RMC in the tenure of Mayor Ghulam Hussain in Zia`s martial law.

A senior RMC official told Dawn cases of encroachment in the city have increased during the last eight years as the administration allowed people to construct on drain banks.

`That the RDA and RMC were at odds over the boundary of their areas was another reasonfor increasing encroachment along nullahs and neither the RDA nor the RMC has taken any action in this regard in the last eight years,` he said.

PPP City President and Hazara Colony Union Council Chairman Babar Jadoon told Dawn RMC officials were responsible for the increasing number of encroachments along nullahs.

`People could not have constructed buildings on the land acquired by a civic body without the help of officials from the RMC building branch.

Officials supporting the ruling party are involved in this,` he alleged.

He said the nullah in Hazara Colony has shrunk from being 50 feet wide to just 12 feet wide and that he had pointed out many places to the Rawalpindi mayor who had not taken notice of the issue.

When asked, RMC Chief Municipal Of ficer Khalid Gor aya said the RMC had launched a comprehensive campaign for removing encroachments in the city on the directives of the pro-vincial government. He said a team had been formed to check the performance of the building branch of the municipal corporation however, he said, the area falls under RMC limits and will soon be cleared from all encroachments.

The Punjab government recently asked RMC to remove encroachments in the city butthe drive was limited to vendors and stall holders and to Raja Bazaar and other commercial centres.

Civic body officials also removed some motorcycles from the roads near the city`s markets as part of their anti-encroachment campaigns but have not asked shopkeepers to remove their goods from the footpaths.