LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) continued its operation against the land grabbers, illegal occupants and encroachers in various areas of the provincial capital on Wednesday.
On the second day of the crackdown, the LDA teams retrieved 50 kanals of land worth billions of rupees on the prime location Sabazar Housing Scheme along the M-2 Motorway. The LDA officials also vacated around 45 kanals of land, situated in 10 Kasara Ghat of Mouza Kot Kamboh from the illegal occupants who had constructed two multi-storey plazas on site besides establishment of an unauthorised truck stand. The LDA officials also retrieved seven plots, measuring 12-marla each, from another nearby place in Sabazar Housing Scheme located in the designated truck stand.
Similar action was witnessed in Johar Town area where the LDA officials sealed dozens of shops and offices on Main PIA Road over non-payment of commercialisation fee and other violations of building by-laws. The LDA teams also took action against land grabbers and encroachers in Anarkali, Harbanspura, Shera Kot and several other areas of the city.
In Harbanspura area, the LDA teams and law enforcing agencies had to face great resistance from occupants as a large number of citizens took to streets. They chanted slogans against the government and city developer. They blocked the main road by burning tyres. However, after negotiating with angry protestors, the city administration calm downed the situation.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, citizens and traders’ leader alleged that nobody could install a single brick in the provincial capital without paying bribe to the LDA or town administration. Senior leader of Anjuman Tajiran Pakistan Abdul Razaq Babbar said trading community supports the government action against illegal occupants, land grabbers and encroachments but the government should also take action against the LDA officials who initially allowed illegal constructions after taking hefty bribes.
He appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take stern action against the LDA officials who allowed these illegal constructions after minting money. “Utility companies have installed electricity, water and telephone connection in these building which have been declared illegal overnight. If these building were illegal, action should also be taken against the utility companies that had installed connections in illegal buildings,” he demanded.
Anjuman Tajiran Anarakli President Arshad Bhatti highlighted that the trading community of Anarkali has cooperated with the government by voluntarily removing most of the encroachments. Now traders demand of the government to provide them parking plaza and address traffic problems in the market. He also asked the authorities to take action against the government officials who took millions of rupees in gratification for allowing encroachments. He underlined that the LDA was one of the most corrupt government departments where you cannot move your file from one table to another without pay bribe. “Even you cannot get your legitimate work done without the payment of speed money,” he highlighted.
A trader on PIA Road, Muhammad Saleem said he got a showroom of furniture without knowing the fact that the property was illegal. “Electricity, water-supply and telephone connections are installed in the showroom. Nobody could have judged that it was an illegal property since it was a multi-storey concrete building. Yesterday, all of a sudden the LDA team came and dismantled the entire plaza,” he said, adding that the LDA operation against the land grabbers has caused millions of rupees loss to the trading community. On PIA road, mostly tenants have become victim of the ongoing anti-encroachment drive. He also appealed the Supreme Court of Pakistan to direct government to do some strict legislation that bar illegal encroachment in the city permanently.
An LDA spokesman highlighted that the land had been acquired by the authority for Sabazar Housing Scheme after giving them compensation in form of developed plots, known as exempted plot. He indicated that the current operation may continue for a month or the retrieval of all illegal occupation and encroachments.
LDA Director General Amna Imran Khan has said the Punjab government was following a policy of zero-tolerance against the land grabbers. “Retrieving the state land from illegal occupants is the top priority of the government. By launching crackdown against the land grabbers, writ of the government is being restored,” she remarked. She said the operation is being carried out without any discrimination and no one will be given any relaxation.
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