A ragpicker sifts through debris at a park in Rawalpindi’s Commercial Market. The park was demolished to make way for a car park. — White Star
A ragpicker sifts through debris at a park in Rawalpindi’s Commercial Market. The park was demolished to make way for a car park. — White Star

RAWALPINDI: New parking space is being created by Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation (RMC) at the site of a children amusement park adjacent to the main park in Commercial Market in Satellite Town.

However, the project drew criticism from the local residents who called it encroachment in the green area and said instead of providing recreational facilities to children, the civic body was winding the amusement park commonly called ‘Bachon ki Dunya’.

On the other hand, traders of Commercial Market said parking space in the area was necessary as visitors were facing problems and avoiding coming to the market due to congestion.

But the RMC termed the reservation of the locals unjustified and said the parking space was being developed at a piece of land which had never been a part of the main park for the last 25 years.

Mohammad Majid, a resident of Block-D Satellite Town, said for children there was only one recreational site but the civic body was developing a parking space on it.

He said if the amusement park was not functional it should be developed into a green space so women and elderly people would visit it for walk.

“Instead of developing better recreational spaces for children, women and elderly persons, the civic body is working on a project to make money. The amusement park should be constructed on modern lines through which the RMC could also earn money,” said Raja Imran.

He said in the past Satellite Town was known for its green parks but now it was giving a barren look.

“The existing parks have been turned into community halls, schools and colleges and few parks are left which are not properly looked after,” he said.

On the other hand, traders of Commercial Market seemed happy that the RMC is creating a parking space for the main market.

“We have been demanding for over 10 years that parking space should be arranged for us so visitors will come back to this main commercial hub of the city,” said Mohammad Imran, an office-bearer of the traders association.

He said people faced problems due to absence of parking space and were forced to go for shopping in those areas where they could park their vehicles easily.

He said traffic police issued challans to people who parked their vehicle along the main roads.

It may be mentioned that Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation (RMC) razed the play land in Commercial Market, Satellite Town, a few months ago to convert it into a parking area.

A senior official said the RMC had been leasing out the play land annually and the lease agreement expired two years ago and RMC did not extend it.

He said total area of the play land was eight kanals which would be used as a parking area. He said due to the play land and the market, there was shortage of space for parking.

The official said the RMC had made a plan to convert the area into a parking space.

He said the RMC was earning Rs425,000 per month from the play land but it would earn more after converting the land into a parking lot.

When contacted, RMC Chief Metropolitan Officer Khawaja Imran said it was a wrong perception that the green area was being converted into a parking space as the play land was not part of the park.

He said that in 2012 the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) was formed and all parks under the Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation were handed over to it. But it was still in possession of the RMC.

He said the RMC would spend Rs15 million to convert the site into a parking space and would install tough tiles on it and construct a boundary wall around it.

Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2020