Six years after the capital’s civic agency declared Saidpur a model village, it has yet to take action against villagers trading in livestock close to its entrance.
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has not been able to remove an illegal market that sprung up years ago, with allegations that officials have been turning a blind eye in return for pay offs.
The market has 13 stalls, each with about 50 goats, said Muhammad Rehman a resident of Saidpur.
The majority of the goatherds here are from the village, Rehman added. “Although some of the goatherds are from out-of-town, they have been residing in the village for years.”
The traders have encroached on the footpath and torn down fences meant to protect the greenbelt, which is being seen as fair game for grazing.
“The CDA served many notices, but officials from the enforcement directorate allowed us to continue our business in exchange for some money,” said a villager who requested that his name be withheld.
“The goatherds have set up an illegal market and have encroached upon an entire patch parallel to Margalla Road in Sector F-6. Villagers were allowed to use a specified area but they have gone beyond it and set up shops on encroached land,” said a CDA official.
Himalayan Wildlife Foundation Director Waqas Zakria said the Margalla Hills National Park was being destroyed due to the large number of goats grazing in greenbelts. Plants from the acanthus family are being used as animal fodder and have almost disappeared from the areas bordering the village, he added.
He estimated that about 60 per cent of the national park area has been damaged by the combination of stone crushers on the west and the livestock market on the east.
CDA Administration Member Amir Ali Ahmed said the CDA could not acquire the whole area, which led to escalation of illegal activities. He claimed, however, that the CDA would soon launch an operation. “The CDA will acquire the whole area to better enforce its rules.”
Ahmed admitted that the CDA was responsible for protecting the area’s environment and had failed to do so.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2014.