ISLAMABAD, Sept 9: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has closed its eyes to the occupation of about 300 acres on the G.T. Road by encroachers.

The land is located on the right of way from the Nicholson Monument to the Pirwadhai Interchange.

The right of way land is left vacant on both sides of a highway for green areas or future commercial activities.

This right of way is almost an eight-kilometre-long patch of land on both sides of the G.T. Road. However, it has been encroached upon by different business owners, an official of the CDA told Dawn on the condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media on record.

“On both sides of the G.T. Road, the CDA owns 300 feet (right of way). But the authority has failed to check the encroachment there.”

The official added that different businesses had cropped up on the state land, including petrol pumps, private mechanical and electrical workshops, timber and hardware shops.

The encroachers started occupying the land in the early 1990s soon after the establishment of private housing schemes in the area. With the mushroom growth of the private housing societies, the cost of the land in the area has also gone up.

Once the new Islamabad airport starts operation by 2015, this land can become a goldmine. By exerting its ownership and utilising the land properly, the cash-strapped civic agency can earn huge revenues from the land, the official observed.

A visit to the area showed that a large number of shops had also placed their mechanical and electrical equipment on the land. At a few places, the private owners have also established permanent structures other than kiosks and even shops.

A motor mechanic and businessman of the area, Raja Afrasyab, said: “I have built this motor workshop plaza on a privately-purchased land and it has nothing to do with the CDA.”

Asked if he had any approvals for the construction of the plaza from the CDA or the building control department and the land directorate, he claimed: “This land does not belong to the CDA. This entire area falls in the jurisdiction of the Rawlapindi Division.”

However, contrary to the businessman’s claim, the plaza is located opposite a private housing scheme where the CDA land demarcation board has been fixed.

A source in the enforcement division of the CDA insisted that the issue was known to the CDA Board members. However, the board could not take any decision over the encroached land for the last 23 years.

The source said the matter was being addressed at the tehsildar and cleric level and had hardly been discussed at any of the board meetings.

Mushtaq Ahmed, a high court lawyer, while commenting on the CDA negligence in getting its 300 acres vacated, asserted: “The Supreme Court of Pakistan had directed the authority in January 2011 to ensure vacation of all its land from illegal possession.”

It is pertinent to mention that in January 2011, the apex court had directed the civic agency to retrieve around 20,000 acres from encroachers in different parts of the city.

In June that year, the city managers launched a campaign and got around 12,000 acres vacated. However, the campaign has been on the hold for the last seven months.

“And if the authority has failed to act on the directions of the apex court it comes under the act of contempt,” said Mr Ahmed.

When contacted, Asiya Gul, the CDA director media, claimed: “The authority is actively pursuing cases related to encroachment in the city.

“We have conducted a number of anti-encroachment operations along the I.J. Principal Road, at Faizabad, I-8 and a number of other sectors.”

She said the CDA was carrying out anti-encroachment operations in phases because it faced human resource shortage in its enforcement division.

“Once the CDA Board decides about removing the encroachment along the G.T. Road, we will ensure a clean-up operation there and will retrieve our land.”

Opinion

Editorial

Unyielding onslaught
12 Jun, 2024

Unyielding onslaught

SEVEN soldiers paid the ultimate price in Lakki Marwat on Sunday when their vehicle was blown up in an IED attack,...
X diplomacy
Updated 12 Jun, 2024

X diplomacy

Both states can pursue adversarial policies, or come to the negotiating table and frankly discuss all outstanding issues, which can be tackled through dialogue.
Strange decisions
12 Jun, 2024

Strange decisions

THE ECP continues to wade deeper and deeper into controversy. Through its most recent decision, it had granted major...
Interest rate cut
Updated 11 Jun, 2024

Interest rate cut

The decision underscores SBP’s confidence that economic stability is gaining traction.
Rampant zealotry
11 Jun, 2024

Rampant zealotry

Decades of myopic policies pursued by the state have further aided the radicalisation of significant portions of the population.
Cricket breakdown
11 Jun, 2024

Cricket breakdown

THERE was a feeling that Pakistan had finally turned the corner in their T20 World Cup campaign. Sadly, it was only ...