GUJRAT, Oct 7: Efforts of locals as well as ruling PML-N cadres for getting municipal corporation status for Gujrat are likely to bear fruit as the chief minister has given a verbal approval to the demand.

The provincial local government department had earlier rejected the district government’s plea on the issue.

A summary seeking municipal corporation status for Gujrat was sent by DCO Asif Lodhi to the office of the competent authority through the local government department on Monday.

Sources told Dawn that PML-N MPA Imran Zafar and disqualified lawmaker Haji Nasir Mehmood once again pleaded the case before Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. According to sources, the CM had promised to look into the matter once again and directed the Gujrat DCO to move a summary.

They claimed they had been able to convince the Punjab government and that the CM had agreed in principle to grant the status of municipal corporation to Gujrat city after two party leaders had a brief meeting with the CM during his visit here on Sunday last.

According to those who had been supporting the cause, the population of the city has increased from the required number of at least 500,000.

Government officials said according to the law the population would be considered as per the 1998 census and according to that the city had not more than 250,000 souls.

Local PML-N circles insisted the Punjab government was about to approve the status for Gujrat city.

Gujart DCO Asif Lodhi confirmed reports of verbal approval by the CM on the matter.

Earlier, according to a local government department notification, six major towns of the district, including Gujrat, Jalalpur Jattan, Lalamusa, Kharian, Dinga and Sara-i-Alamgir, had been given the status of municipal committees.

Meanwhile, residents of some villages in the suburbs of these recently notified municipal committees have demanded inclusion of their areas into the limits of the municipalities concerned.

Since the district and tehsil administrations were busy in delimitation of wards of the municipal committees and union councils of various parts of the district, locals pressed PML-N legislators to get the needful done.

The most vocal demand came from villages surrounding Lalamusa city, including Khawaspur, Sadiqabad, Seda Gol, Vehand and Gakhri. They contended population of the town had stretched to their villages, which had almost become part of the city due to continuing extension of the urban area.

Saifur Rehman Bhatti, a lawyer belonging to the PML-N, told Dawn inclusion of villages surrounding Lalamusa city into the ambit of the municipal committee had been a popular demand of the people. He said these villages did not seem part of the rural area due to rapid stretch in urbanisation.

Irfan Ahmed Safi, a former nazim of one of the four union councils of Lalamusa city, said the town had been second major city of the district. He said it was a basic right of the people to have access to civic amenities as an MC would offer better facilities than the rural areas union council.

Official sources said some villages located in the surroundings of Kharian and Sara-i-Alamgir cities were also being included into the limits of the respective municipal committees on the demand of their residents. The ruling party’s legislators belonging to these towns had played a key role in the development, they said.

PML-N MPA Mian Tariq, who won the status of municipal committee for his constituency PP-113’s only town Dinga, said the town had been historical and had held the status of municipal committee until 1979. But from 1983 to 2001 it had become a town committee and then bifurcated into two union councils in 2001. It had finally reclaimed the status of MC after 34 years due to the longstanding demand of its people.

He said people of rural areas surrounding Dinga town had also demanded inclusion of their areas into the MC limits, and the government officials concerned would look into the matter in accordance with the law.