RAWALPINDI: After receiving a letter of intent from the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA), the contractor for Saddar to Committee Chowk portion of Metro Bus Project, Zahid Khan and Brothers (ZKB), has started dismantling the swings at Women Park to keep machinery there.
The formal work on Rs44.21 billion project will start on March 27, but the RDA has allowed the contractor to move machinery to the venue.
“Mobilization of heavy machinery will take time, so we have allowed its movement in advance so that the work on the project can start on time and without any interruption,” said Commissioner and Project Director Zahid Saeed, while talking to Dawn.
The local administration constructed the women park, located adjacent to Liaquat Bagh, in 2005 after bifurcating Liaquat Park at a cost of Rs4.5 million. It was an ideal place for women of adjoining localities to stroll in the evening.
Liaquat Park was known for roses and lush green character. Even former military dictator Ziaul Haq used to host Iftar-dinners for the elites of the city at this park. But July 2001 devastating flood had completely destroyed it.
Instead of redeveloping the park, the local administration turned two acres of the park into Women Park and the rest of the space remained idle till 2010.
In 2010, the leftover space of the park was turned into Model Bazaar which cost Rs27 million.
But the bazaar turned out to be a nonstarter as the local administration failed to attract the vendors and shoppers to this bazaar.
In January 2014, the City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR) relocated stalls of the bazaar from Liaquat Park to Committee Chowk with a view to providing space for the construction of elevated road for metro bus.
The destruction of only park for women has created unrest among the residents of the area, particularly women.
“Where will we go for evening walk? There is no such place in the area where women can walk freely. Liaquat Bagh is not ideal place for women to go alone,” said Mrs. Naseem Ahmed, a resident of Arya Mohallah.
Rubby Naz, another resident of Arya Mohallah, said that she along with her neighbour came to this park daily but on Friday, she saw the people busy in dismantling the swings. She said that the bus project had snatched the park facility from the women of the area. “It is very strange,” she said.The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) Punjab vice-president and former district nazim Raja Tariq Mehboob Kiani said that the Metro Bus Project would destroy all the green areas in the garrison city as well as in capital city.
He doubted that the bus service would ease traffic problems at Murree Road,” he said.
Parks and Horticulture Agency (PHA) official told Dawn that the ZKB did not take PHA into confidence before dismantling the swings for keeping heavy machinery there. He said when they contacted the ZKB officials they advised them to contact the project director.
When contacted, Commissioner Zahid Saeed said that after the completion of the project, the parks and greenbelts would be refurbished, at one per cent of the total cost of the project will. “If any park destroyed during the construction, the local administration will reconstruct it,” he said.