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MURREE: The once scenic, historic Murree Mall is not as easy on the eyes, especially during the summer months when thousands of tourists are visiting.

Construction and beautification work was started on the Mall some six months ago, but not even 30pc of the work has been completed.

The project for the beautification and upgrading of the Mall was initiated on the instruction of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and a contract worth Rs200 million was given to a private contractor for this. The contract was awarded in April this year and work was to be completed by June’s end.

The Mall was to be renovated as per international standards and tiles were to be installed on the road.

State-of-the-art CCTV cameras were to be installed as well as chairs for visitors and fancy lights. Other beautification work was also to be done. However, only about 30pc of the work has been completed in the six months since and the quality of work done is also reportedly not up to standards.

For now, the Mall is not as pleasing to the eyes. Cabins and kiosks have been illegally installed along the road by encroaching on the green belt. The beggars and hand carts make it difficult for tourists to walk.

The Mall was historically closed off to all kinds of traffic except fire brigade vehicles, ambulances and the cars of the president, chief justice and governors. However, the road is now open to the cars of influential persons and even taxis.

Talking to Dawn, Murree assistant commissioner, who is also the administrator of the town, Arif Ullah said the project was launched by the Urban Unit Development, a department of the Punjab government and the Murree Town Administration is to look after the project.

He said the town administration is keeping a check to ensure the quality of beautification work and is pursuing the contractor to complete the work as soon as possible.

He said starting development work at many places will pose problems and that action will be taken against encroachments after development work is completed.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2017