Gulberg footpaths losing out to encroachers

Yasir Habib July 11, 2010

LAHORE: Major portions of the footpaths along most of Gulberg’s main roads have been lost to encroachments varying from construction material heaps and animal fodder to semi-permanent eateries and tea-stalls.

These roads include Guru Mangat Road, Hali Road, MM Alam Road, Noor Jahan Road, Ali Zaib Road, Mian Mahmood Ali Kasuri Road, Ghalib Road, Sir Syed Road, Tipu Road and several roads leading to the Mini-Market and the Main Market.

Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, the Lahore DCO, told The Express Tribune that there was a complete ban on storing things like construction material on roads or footpaths. “Those found guilty of violating the ban would be penalised,” he added.

A survey by The Express Tribune has revealed that many restaurants and makeshift eateries are using footpaths and parts of roads as sitting area for their customers.

Amjad Khan, who owns a shop at the Mini Market roundabout, said that there was no intention to encroach upon the footpaths.

All he was doing, he said, was to protect them from street vendors. He said, “We put some of our products in front of the shop to save them from being encroached on by these vendors.”

These encroachments are defeating the purpose of footpaths. A significant portion of the road construction budget is devoted for setting up footpaths.

Sohail Zia, a Gulberg resident and the president of Rafah Welfare Society, accused the officials of the town councils of colluding with the encroachers”.

“The town officials patronise these encroachers. They have never launched an honest operation against them. The residents including the elderly, the women and the children cannot walk to the nearby markets as there are no footpaths left along the road,” he said.

He said that footpaths along Guru Mangat Road are being used illegally to store construction material including bricks, piles of sand, cobble stones and cement.

Saleh Saeed, the Gulberg Town administrator, rejected the allegations that the TMA was patronising the encroachers. “We have an anti-encroachment cell to evict these encroachments, but they keep popping up after some time,” she said.

Khusru Pervaiz, the Lahore commissioner, had earlier directed the officials concerned to remove all encroachments from the footpath, specially the construction material and heaps of garbage, before the onset of monsoon. He had given June 30 deadline to them to complete the task.

Tariq Zaman, the personal staff officer of the DCO, said that the CDGL had issued orders to launch a drastic drive against the people involved in dumping construction material on roads. He claimed that the drive would start today (July 11). He said that all town municipal officers (TMOs) have been informed in this regard.

The Gulberg Town administration has yet to launch a drive in this regard.

Saleh said that they have executed the monsoon action plan. On removing the encroachments, she said that the administration would soon initiate a drive to clear all the footpaths and roads of the illegal occupants.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2010.


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