SAHIWAL, Sept 20: Around 13 electricity poles are hindering widening of Noor Shah-Sahiwal Road near Kot Khadim Ali and DHQ Hospital for two years.
It has been learnt that Wapda lacked the ‘conductor’ – a wire connecting each pole –. But Wapda blamed representatives of local wood market trade union, saying they were resisting the widening because many shops had illegally occupied the road for 30 years.
This was stated in a meeting at the commissioner’s office. Commissioner Sher Alam Mahsood directed the Wapda SE and the highways SE to remove poles in four days and arrest those resisting the move, Dawn learnt.
Development Director Habib Jilani Venas told Dawn that under the Punjab government’s development programme, widening of 30km Noor Shah-Sahiwal Road had been designed two years ago for which the government allocated Rs482 million. The single road had to be widened into two lanes.
Hindrance in the project emerged near DHQ Hospital and Kot Khadim Ali, as the area was congested and several residents of Kot Khadim Ali, shopkeepers and local saw market shopkeepers had illegally occupied the area. The highways department asked the TMA to clear all illegal occupations.
Besides the illegal shops, there were 54 electricity poles on the right side of the single road that had to be removed and later readjusted after widening of the road. Under the project, the 54 poles were to be replaced with 21 new ones that were to be longer and closer to each other than the previous ones.
It was learnt that so far Wapda had replaced only eight poles in the last one year.
Highways department EXEN Zeeshan Butt told Dawn that his department had paid Rs8 million to Wapda during 2010 to replace the poles, but there was no development yet.
Wapda officials on the other hand blamed representatives of the saw owners trade union for creating hindrance.
“Because many saw shops are set up under existing Wapda poles,” Kot Khadim SDO Faisal Husain Kazmi told Dawn.
An insider revealed Wapda does not have the conductor (electricity wire) which was delaying the removal of the poles. The matter was being debated between Wapda and the highways department for one year.
Mushtaq Adil, a resident of Kot Khadim Ali, told Dawn that the old electricity poles had taken up space on the road for traffic coming from Noor Shah. Therefore, the commissioner directed Wapda to remove 13 pools immediately and clear 24-foot wide patch of the road.
Saw Owners Association President Muhammad Ali told Dawn that they would convince shopkeepers to move back. Wapda EXEN Mahar Nawaz Nadeem said the old poles would be removed at the earliest.