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Operation against plotting along Korang River fails

April 25, 2018

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CDA team conducts an anti-encroachment drive along Korang River on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad
CDA team conducts an anti-encroachment drive along Korang River on Tuesday. — Photo by Tanveer Shahzad

ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) operation to demolish a retaining wall along the Korang River and remove plotting in Dhoke Jillani near Banigala failed after the civic agency’s heavy machinery was unable to demolish the structure.

The CDA and Islamabad Capital Territory administration had conducted a joint operation on Tuesday against plotting along the Korang River, which is the main source of water to the Rawal Dam. The operation was halted by the CDA team after they dug potholes into an access road.

A large group of GDA enforcement officials and police took part in the operation, for which over a dozen vehicles were used. However, an onlooker described the outcome of the operation as something “just one labourer could do in a few hours”.

CDA machinery unable to demolish retaining wall along river; operation to be restarted with modern machinery, ICT official says

ICT officer Ali Javed, who was leading the operation, said both of CDA’s machines failed to demolish the wall, which was why the operation was halted.

“We have decided to restart this operation in the coming days with modern machines,” he said, adding that the ICT and CDA have decided will remove newly-established plots along the river under a joint strategy.

When asked about action against buildings constructed along the river, Mr Javed said the first priority was to ensure water flows smoothly in the Korang. “The operation against illegal buildings could be launched in the next phase,” he said.

Tuesday’s operation saw opposition from locals, who said they have ownership of the land, with fards and registries issued by the ICT.

Mohammad Mahtab, an owner of land that is apparently part of the Korang River where Tuesday’s operation was conducted, said: “What is our fault? We have purchased this land after adopting due process. We have fard of this land. If the land is part of the Korang River, why did ICT officials issue fard?”

The Korang River has been encroached upon at various points, and the absence of sewage treatment plants has allowed untreated sewage to flow into Rawal Dam from unplanned localities in its catchment area that contaminate the water and pose a risk to aquatic life and the residents of Rawalpindi who receive water from the dam.

Nullahs – large ones such as the Shahdhra nullah – as well as smaller drains that feed the Korang River are also being encroached upon. In some parts of Bhara Kahu, these nullahs have been fully covered by construction.

When contacted, ICT Deputy Commissioner Revenue Kamran Cheema said that a recent survey had found that over 60 kanals along the Korang River and some nullahs are under illegal occupation.

ICT and CDA officials Dawn spoke to said that traditional nullahs are owned by the state, but absent regulatory checks, nearly all of Islamabad’s nullahs – particularly in zones IV and V – have been encroached upon, as the nullahs’ surfaces are covered, and buildings are constructed over them.

They said revenue department officials are also involved in the practice, as they issue fards and registries without verifying the status of the land.

“Bhara Kahu is a classic example of this practice, where dozens of residential and commercial buildings have been constructed over the top of the nullah,” a CDA official said.

Officials said that after proper demarcation, there is a need to install clear signboards informing people the land belongs to the state, in order to prevent future sale and purchase.

Published in Dawn, April 25th, 2018