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Anti-encroachment operation stopped in Lahore

Updated October 12, 2018

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A marquee is demolished along Kashmir Highway during CDA’s operation in Islamabad in September. — File Photo
A marquee is demolished along Kashmir Highway during CDA’s operation in Islamabad in September. — File Photo

LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) led government has stopped the anti-encroachment operation in Lahore until the Oct 14 by-elections because of the deployment of staff and resources for by-elections in Lahore for two NA and as many PA seats.

Commissioner Dr Mujtaba Paracha confirmed the stoppage of the operation, saying that the resumption of the operation, which was going on with a great success, would be decided after the bye-polls.

The city is witnessing an active electioneering by PML-N and PTI candidates for NA-124 and NA-131 and PP-164 and PP-165.

A city district government official, however, told Dawn on the condition of anonymity the decision was taken for political reasons, mainly to woo voters, who were annoyed because of the operation. Officials engaged in the operation were facing resistance by the people, and in many cases they had to retreat from encroached sites. On Thursday, a team headed by the cantonment assistant commissioner faced resistance by the residents of Mauza Mota Singh. A mob attacked the officials, broke glasses of their vehicles and damaged a crane, according to official sources.

By-election deployment or politicking?

The official said the merciless operation was creating sympathy for opposition candidates as they exploited the operation a political victimization of PML-N voters.

Since its inception, the operation faced severe resentment and resistance in the city. Scores of people resisted teams in Harbanspura on Oct 3 by blocking Canal Road. The team, led by the Shalimar assistant commissioner, was to demolish illegal marriage halls and other structures on and retrieve over 30 kanals. Similarly, on Thursday the residents of Mauza Mota Singh (Cantonment) did not let the teams retrieve 24 state kanals adjacent to a park.

“The police arrested six people for intervening into official working. Likewise, a team of the Lahore Ring Road Authority and the district administration also faced resistance during a mega operation in Bahria Town this week,” another official said.

MASTER PLAN: The master plan of Lahore needs to be updated in view of the ever increasing population and expansion in limits of the city to cope with the future challenges. The present master plan of Lahore was approved in 2004 which is valid up to 2021. However, after expansion in Lahore Development Authority’s limit to the level of entire Lahore division in 2013, its scope has been extended to four districts of the division. Recommendations and proposals by stakeholders will be welcomed for making a viable master plan for the city. These views were expressed in a meeting held at the NESPAK Headquarters on Thursday. The Nespak managing director asked for collecting data for the new master plan with the help of GIS.

Published in Dawn, October 12th, 2018