The residents of several cantonment areas are suffering due to illegal commercial activities in residential areas and the authorities concerned seem least interested to take action in accordance with the law against violators.
Illegal commercial activities in several residential areas of Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) including Gawalmandi, Chor, Tench Bhatta and Chungi No 22 bother residents as encroachers who have occupied streets and roads, create problems for motorists and pedestrians particularly women and children.
The illegal commercial activities rampant in several residential areas, create lots of nuisance. Residents have raised queries why a number of roads have been declared eligible to be commercial by ignoring parking arrangements and traffic-related issues. Almost all unauthorised commercial units, factories and godowns in residential areas lack parking arrangements. Thus, vehicles are generally parked on roads causing traffic congestion. The majority of such units lack fire safety arrangements, posing a threat to residents. There is no check on noise pollution generated by industrial units.
According to residents, most streets of Tench Bhatta, Peoples Colony, Dhoke Syedan, Bakra Mandi, Chungi No 22, Chor, Gawalmandi, etc. have been converted into commercial centres as traders have converted houses into workshops, godowns and offices.
Residents also complain that influential persons in connivance with the authorities concerned are constructing illegal plazas and shops further contributing to the deterioration of the situation.
The residents, Altaf, Aslam and Dilawar talking to APP said encroachments in several residential areas particularly Tench Bhatta, Chungi No 22, Chor and Gawalmandi were on the rise as the authorities were unable to stop encroachments that were steadily increasing and getting out of control.
By violating building bylaws, a number of commercial stores, restaurants and other units have been opened in the residential area of Gawalmandi. A resident said: “The roads were declared commercial by ignoring the safety of residents and traffic-related issues.”
Due to the authorities’ concerned apathy and negligence, residents are suffering because no action is taken on complaints against violations. Encroachments have become a major problem not only for motorists but also area residents, while the concerned are taking no action.
Sohail of Tench Bhatta said one could witness the traffic mess on Tench Bhatta road as shopkeepers had occupied both sides of the road and left no space for movement of pedestrians besides causing traffic jams. “Due to rising commercial activities in these areas, we are forced to suffer. Visitors to unauthorised commercial units park their vehicles outside houses. The department concerned has created a big mess in various residential areas by ignoring such violations,” he added.
An RCB spokesman stated that we are not allowing new commercial construction in residential areas. "We are taking action in accordance with the law against violators. Heavy fines imposed on violators,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 3rd, 2021.
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