CHITRAL: The residents of the Chitral city have expressed concern about the unchecked and haphazard growth of multi-storey shopping plazas in the town, causing traffic congestion and squeezing parking spaces.

They complained that mushrooming of commercial buildings along the bypass road, Shahi Masjid Road and in Chew Bazaar and Sabzi Mandi had squeezed space for parking of vehicles and pedestrians as the structures lacked separate parking lots and solid waste management.

Former village nazim Sajjad Ahmed Khan said the problem of parking in the city was worsening with the day as there was no parking facility with any of the commercial buildings in the busy areas of the city.

He said the shopkeepers and those working in the plazas parked their vehicles on the roadsides, thereby creating traffic mess.

He said the municipal administration had yet to arrange any public parking place inside the city.

The former nazim said as per the municipal administration’s by-laws, the owner of a shopping plaza was required to arrange parking place, group toilets, washrooms and a system for collection of solid waste.

He said the municipal body had also overlooked the free disposal of solid waste in the conduits on either side of the bazaar through which the fresh water from the Chitral Gol stream passed. As a result, the conduits choked and water flowed onto the roads.

Enayat Gul, a trader in the Shahi Bazaar, said the people used to consume the fresh water flowing through the conduits in the past, but now it had been heavily contaminated.

He said the space around the two parallel bridges between Atalique and Shahi Bazaars had become the dirtiest spot in the city filled with garbage dumps.

He said encroachment of the riverbanks had also gone unchecked where multi-storey buildings were being raised.

When contacted, tehsil municipal officer Misbahuddin admitted that the newly-constructed plazas had encroached upon public space and caused unhygienic conditions in the city.

He, however, said he had issued notices to the owners of the buildings to have their own parking lots, toilets and washrooms. He said if they did not comply they would have had their plazas sealed.

Lower Chitral deputy commissioner Hassan Abid said disorganised constructions in the city had created troubles for the public. He said he would first order installation of streetlights in the city and then pay attention to irregularities in construction of buildings.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2020

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