RAWALPINDI: Punjab government will procure 427 kanals of land in Mauza Kaliam to move the wholesale market out of Raja Bazaar.
Traders, however, objected to the move, saying that more than 3,000 kanals of land is needed for the new market.
The government has been trying to shift the wholesale market to outside the city in response to demands from traders, and has planned and selected land in this regard three times in the last five years.
The PML-N provincial government had selected 991 kanals near Gujar Khan to this end, but work stopped after differences developed between traders and the government’s representative, Hanif Abbasi, because the traders wanted the government to buy the land and give it to traders in instalments.
Efforts began again last month, when the district administration wrote to the Punjab agriculture department to start work on moving the market outside the city.
The market committee, with help from Assistant Commissioner Naeem Afzal, chose two sites and eventually decided toprocure land in Kiliam.
Local revenue officials visited the site to demarcate land on Thursday.
The market committee will purchase the land after their report, after which the process of moving the market these will begin.
Moving the wholesale market out of the city would reduce traffic in the downtown area and reduce encroachment. The new site is near the starting point of the proposed ring road in Channi Sher Alam. The project would help traders send their goods north without entering city limits.
Grains Wholesale Dealers Association President Shamoon Kiani told Dawn the traders have demanded that the wholesale market be shifted outside the city because they find it difficult to load and unload trucks in the morning, due to the ban on the entry of heavy vehicles to city areas between 6am and 11pm.
He said they welcomed the government’s decision but have reservations regarding the amount of land being procured, as there are more than 700 dealers in the grain market, each of whom requires 12 marlas to build a go-down and offices.
Mr Kiani said Rawalpindi is the main grain market for this region and the northern areas.
“All the goods are supplied to Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir from the Rawalpindi market, and the size of the wholesale market should be large enough to accommodate all the dealers,” he said.
He said the traders had asked National Health Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani for help in the allocation of land for the wholesale market, and he had assured them of his assistance.
He added that the government should allocate more space so traders can build go-downs and plan for future requirements.
Rawalpindi Traders Association Sharjeel Mir said there needs to be proper planning for the move.
“The traders want land allocated for their housing scheme, as it will be difficult for traders to travel more than an hour every day to go to the market and the same amount of time coming back home,” he said.
He said the government should have comprehensive plan before launching a project to set up the wholesale market outside the city.
“Schools, colleges and hospitals will be required if more than 3,000 traders shift out of the city,” he added.
He also said the stakeholders should be consulted so they can provide better input in the making of a plan.
Deputy Commissioner Chaudhry Mohammad Ali Randhawa met local traders at his office to hear their grievances. The meeting was also attended by traffic police and district officials, including Assistant Commissioner Naeem Afzal.
Mr Randhawa told the traders the government would soon procure 427 kanals of land for the wholesale market, which would ease traffic congestion and other problems.
He said the administration is working on easing traffic and building multi-storey parking structures in and around the main markets.
Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2019