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RAWALPINDI: After a break of two weeks, the district administration has resumed its anti-encroachment drive in the city. However, once again, the campaign seems to only be focusing on pushcart owners in some areas.

Last month, the district administration launched a drive to retrieve the land of the Evacuee Trust Property Board and the Auqaf Department but it was stopped after two days due to political pressure.

However, the district administration and the Rawalpindi Municipal Corporation (RMC) resumed the operation which they say is against permanent encroachments but so far, it seems that they are only confiscating goods from pushcart owners.

In its press release, the district administration claims to have seized goods from shop keepers in Bohar Bazaar, Liaquat Road, Iqbal Road and main Raja Bazaar.

On the other hand, Rawalpindi Traders Association spokesperson Naveed Kanwal told Dawn that the drive was limited to Bohar Bazaar and Iqbal Road and was conducted to clear the way for some local politicians.

“The shopkeepers are not against the drive but the administration cannot only conduct the campaign in selected areas. Both permanent and temporary encroachments should be removed from all the bazaars,” he said.

He said the RMC and the district administration had to clear all pushcart owners from Bara Market and that they had failed to do so in the main bazaar.

The traffic congestion in Ganjmandi and Sabzi Mandi is creating problems for traders and shoppers alike but the administration does not see the problem, he added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Umar Jehangir on Tuesday reviewed the anti-encroachment drive in the district in a meeting with district administration officials.

“Our campaign is against temporary and permanent encroachers and we will remove all hurdles from the city’s roads,” he said.

The meeting discussed traffic congestions and ways to end jams on main roads.

“Traffic jams are caused by encroachments on roads and footpaths. People are seeing the difference on Murree Road and other main roads of the city due to the efforts of the administration,” the deputy commissioner said.

The meeting was told that the Auqaf Department had pointed out encroachments on two kanals of its land in Committee Chowk, 1.5 kanal near Khanna Bridge, 439 kanals in Tehsil Kalar Syedan and two shrines which are illegally occupied.

The meeting was told that between Oct 29 and Nov 12, the district administration had managed to retrieve 74 kanals and 12 marlas of forest land in Murree and more than 356 sites had been cleared from temporary encroachments in different parts of the district. The Rawalpindi Development Authority has issued notices for 35 illegal constructions on Asghar Mall Road.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2018

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