LAHORE: The Lahore administration launched a grand operation on Tuesday against encroachments, retrieving illegally possessed land, including around 80 kanals possessed by Mansha Bomb in Johar Town worth Rs5 billion.
The operation, which would continue for a month, was simultaneously launched in Johar Town (PIA Road) and Anarkali by teams headed by Lahore Development Authority (LDA) Director General (DG) Amina Imran Khan and Deputy Commissioner (DC) retired Capt Anwarul Haq.
Those operating the illegal properties in Johar Town – after renting them out from Mansha or his henchmen -- for either residential or commercial purposes were seen grabbing their valuables as soon as the machines arrived. They complained that they were not informed of the drive earlier.
“We have been living here for the last four years and were paying Rs4,000 as monthly rent to Malik Humayun -- a close relative of Mansha. But today, this action has left us without shelter as we were suddenly asked to vacate the buildings within half an hour,” Munawar Bibi, whose shanty was also removed, told Dawn while sitting with her family outside a house.
During the operation in Johar Town, officials razed several structures, removed dozens of shanties and took over plots using heavy machinery. Later, they planted saplings on the cleared land.
“You can see how we have retrieved a vast area belonging to the LDA as well as private people from the possession of Mansha Bomb. We are also planting saplings on the retrieved land,” LDA DG Khan told Dawn.
The anti-encroachment operation in Lahore as well as other parts of Punjab was launched in light of the orders of Supreme Court after an oversees Pakistani filed a petition with the apex court’s human rights cell seeking retrieval of his land from Mansha. The court took up the matter directing the Punjab government to launch a crackdown on land grabbers and retrieve both public and private properties.
Mansha had rented out buildings and open spaces on 80 kanal to people for residential and commercial use. This land included 50 kanal belonging to the LDA and 30 kanal was private property. The 30 kanal included around 10 kanal in Saman Zar Colony belonging to the man who had filed a petition in the Supreme Court. Most of the people, who were using the plots commercially, had established furniture showrooms (Neelam Ghar) and some had set up motor workshops and other businesses.
“I was paying a rent of Rs13,000 to Mansha. Another person paid Rs85,000 as monthly rent for his motor workshop,” said Muhammad Kashif, who was running a puncture shop.
According to an official, all public and private land possessed by Mansha or his front-men was retrieved without resistance. “The plots owned by the petitioners have also been retrieved and we razed the structures built on them,” LDA Director (Town Planning) Azhar Ali said.
A similar operation was carried out in Anarkali. “The officials, led by the DC and assistant commissioner concerned, completed 50 per cent of the job here by dismantling 250 extended structures, 300 signboards and 200 sheds. Following completion of the operation, Anarkali bazaar will be restored to its original form,” a city administration spokesman said in a press release.
Meanwhile, Lahore Commissioner Dr Mujtaba Paracha said these operations were also launched in the districts of Sheikhupura, Nankana Sahib and Kasur.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd , 2018