The continuing encroachment on a public park in Dhoke Sayedan drew the ire of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Rawalpindi bench on Friday, as the National Logistic Cell director general, military estate officer and Auqaf department chief administrator were all told to appear before the court on August 1.
The case centres on a public park which is allegedly being used as a garbage dump by government agencies, while other parts of the park have been subject to encroachment by land grabbers.
When the hearing started, petitioners Anwar Dar and Inamur Rahim told the court that illegal construction was going on in the ground in brazen violation of court orders.
The LHC’s Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh was also informed that garbage dumped by the NLC has not yet been removed.
After hearing the petitioners, Justice Sheikh ordered the military state officer and NLC chief to appear in person in the next hearing before adjourning the case till August 1.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Advocate Sarkar Abbass confirmed that the NLC DG and the military estate officer have been summoned.
“This land belongs to Ministry of Defence and much of it has been auctioned,” she said, adding that children used to play there and the locals demanded that it be utilised for welfare purposes.
“The locals demanded that a school or hospital be built here, but the ministry must decide on its fate,” she said. She said they were summoned in the last hearing but notices were not issued to them.
She said the ground was a camp site during the British era and some of it was auctioned to collect funds for the ministry.
On the other hand, petitioner Anwaar Dar said the land belongs to the Government of Punjab and land grabbers have encroached upon it. He said it was the only playground left in the area for children. “There is no other open area where children and youngsters can take part in healthy activities.”
The court has also barred dumping garbage and illegal construction, he said, while showing the ownership documents. He said the court order is brazenly being violated as garbage is still dumped there and construction is ongoing.
During the last hearing, he said the Rawalpindi Cantonment Board informed the court that the NLC is not interested in removing the garbage. In 2008, a writ petition was filed with the Lahore High Court (LHC), Rawalpindi bench by Dar seeking to stop the General Headquarters (GHQ) Quarter Master General (QMG) from auctioning the land to private parties for a residential scheme.
In April 2009, the LHC granted stay orders restraining the respondents from auctioning the land. According to Anwar Dar, the LHC bench had asked Rawalpindi Cantonment Board (RCB) CEO Rana Manzoor to appear before the court in person. “His statement was recorded and stay orders were issued,” he said.
Dar, reiterated his position that the land does not belong to the military authorities, saying, “They were illegally auctioning the land. Land which in fact belongs to the Punjab government,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 27th, 2013.
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