Apparent absence of planning on the part of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) before launch of construction work on a public park project have apparently become a source of nuisance for residents of Dhoke Kaku Shah.
A pathway in Dhoke Kaku Shah neighbourhood, which had been in communal use for several decades, has been blocked for residents by local authorities to secure land for an under construction park.
The Punjab government had bought a piece of land from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) in the locality to merge it with under construction Shahbaz Sharif Park on Rawal Road near the Benazir Bhutto International Airport.
The Punjab government has been constructing a boundary wall around the park land measuring 90-kanal.
A part of this under construction wall has blocked access to six private houses in the area.
A visit to the park site in Dhoke Kaku Shah near Satellite Town revealed that the erected wall on the land had completely blocked access to six properties and the residents, who had been living in the locality for over 50 years, had no alternate access to their houses.
After failing to stop the authorities from erecting the wall, the residents were forced to demolish boundary wall of one of the houses to get enable access to and from a link road.
“We have been living here for the last 50 years but the authorities have included the pathway into the park land blocking our access,” said Muhammad Yasin, 50, one of the residents who cannot access his house due to the wall.
“The government has allocated 12-feet passage on the other side of the park land for residents in that area to enable them to access to their houses,” he said, adding that no such step was taken for them.
Yasin said that the residents met former MNA and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hanif Abbasi to help them secure a passage for them before erection of the wall.
He said that Abbasi had assured them that the pathway would not be blocked but the wall was still constructed.
Yasin said that the provincial government had also started constructing public toilets very near their houses for visitors to the park.
Meanwhile, the residents through Advocate Umer Sohail Khan have filed a suit in the court of Civil Judge Muhammad Jawad Alam Qureshi against the blockade.
Advocate Khan, while talking to The Express Tribune said that the court took up their case on Thursday and had assigned a local commission to visit the area to have firsthand information about the issue.
He said that the plaintiffs had already obtained stay from the court, and the court had been waiting for replies from the CAA and the RDA.
The lawyer said that he had argued before the court that the houses existed on private land and the residents had been using the passage for the last 50 years.
He said that under the law, if a pathway was used by public for 22 years, it was considered public passage and could not be blocked by the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 5th, 2016.