Gujranwala district administration on Saturday removed encroachments from Gondalanwala Road and areas around Model Town.
Gujranwala Development Authority spokesperson Babar Mirza told The Express Tribune that four truck-loads of 32 temporary encroachments were taken away. He said notices had been served on 130 poeple, most of them fast-food and juice stall-owners and pushcart vendors.
As many as 23 permanent encroachments, concrete structures built by businesses in front of their shops, were demolished.
The areas cleared of encroachment on the first day of the drive were Model Town market, Gol Park, Maulana Syed Mujaddadi Road, Gondalanwala Road and Sangam Road.
As many as 20 people, 15 employees of two sweets shops (Suleman Sweets and Lala Sweets) in Model Town market and five of shops on Gondalanwala Road, were arrested on charges of obstructing public servants from discharging their duties. These workers were detained at Model Town police station.
Muhammad Irfan, owner of Suleman Sweets whose 12 workers were arrested, alleged that most shops with similar encroachments were left out of the drive. He said the administration did not notify the businesses about the operation.
About his workers, he said the police were holding them without any FIR against them. He said he had requested bail for them but was told to apply on Monday. They said they had orders from the commissioner that no one be released without prosecution.
GDA spokesperson Babar Mirza, in charge of the anti-encroachment drive, rejected the allegation that the administration had been partial in the crackdown.
He said the drive would continue on Monday and that all encroachments in the area would be cleared.
He said the commissioner had directed the GDA to clear all encroachments along Gondalanwala Road so that work to widen the road, that linked Model Town to the GT Road, could be started on schedule.
On Monday, the operation would continue on Jinnah Road, Kot Bulla and Lorry Adda areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2012.