Exalted as a planned city, free from the predicaments and pitfalls of other, free-sprawling metropolises, it might be hard to imagine Islamabad with a fair share of thorns in its lush-green side. But the latest to stir up the hornet’s nest in the federal capital, is a massive anti-encroachment drive, presumed to have retrieved billions worth of illegally occupied government property from the city’s various picket fenced suburbs.
The anti-encroachment drive, which came upon directions of the federal government, was jointly carried out by the Capital Development Authority (CDA), Municipal Corporation of Islamabad (MCI) and the district administration. It is said to have been targeted at land grabbers denting Islamabad’s map by building upon the city’s various green belts, road spaces and other government-owned properties.
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“A lot of these encroached areas have been illegally occupied to make space for breeding of birds, which make way for another illegal trade,” revealed an officer privy to the development, on conditions of anonymity. “Much of the illegally occupied land was centred in areas like Sectors F-6/1 G-6 F-8, G-8 Markaz, I-9 I-10, F-11, G-11 and D-12, Bara Kaho, Curry Road, Islamabad Highway, IG Principal Road and Faizabad. This had led to a lot of deforestation in the area too,” he added.
According to area residents of some of the encroached localities, CDA and police officials have a history of accepting monthly bribes in lieu of turning a blind eye to encroachment. “The government quarters in Sector G-6 are surrounded by illegal constructions from all four sides. All this time CDA had remained unbothered by it because they were taking hefty bribes from us,” a local requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune.
Similarly, an owner of a marquee that was recently demolished, claimed that where his establishment was razed to the ground, several others in F-11, owned by some of the most influential people, still remain untouched. “These include not just marquees but also illegally extended residential complexes, but it appears no action is taken against the rich and powerful in this country,” he lamented, urging the government to tighten its noose on the CDA first.
On the other hand however, according to Islamabad Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqat, this was the first time in capital’s history that over 20,000 kanals of land was successfully retrieved from local land grabbers. Identifying encroachment hotspots, the deputy commissioner said that Zone-3m Mulpur, Quaid-e-Azam University, GT Road, Srinagar Road, Park Enclave, E-12, Sangjani and Mehra Beri, was where the drive was the most taxing.
Revealing future plan of action, he said that the Pakistan Space & Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is working with Islamabad authorities to provide complete record of all land. Using which, authorities hope to rid the federal capital of all illegal structures by 2023. “Citizens who do not cooperate with the anti-encroachment drive should understand that possession of any government property is illegal, for which strict legislation is enacted.
Those who support land grabbers, whether they are from CDA or any other government agency, will be strictly reprimanded. Insiders supporting these mafias will be fired from their jobs and we will leave no stone unturned in ridding Islamabad of encroachments in the coming years,” he told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2021.
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