RAWALPINDI: It was not long ago when people, especially from Satellite Town and adjoining localities, would love to spare time for jogging or strolling in the Commercial Market park.
But a portion of this old park covering about eight kanals is now being converted into a parking lot by the Rawalpindi Metropolitan Corporation (RMC).
A good number of visitors to the park used to enjoy cool breeze either in the morning or in the evening.
Since the park has already lost attraction, Ali Bukhari from Satellite Town Block-D has abandoned visiting it.
Talking to Dawn, he opposed the plan to convert a portion of the park into a parking lot.
He said the authorities should at least restore the past glory of the park if they could not add more facilities to it.
Eight kanals of land to be used for parking vehicles, facilitate traders and visitors, says official
Shahmir Hussain was also critical of the apathy of the civic bodies towards maintaining the park.
He alleged that the officials hardly visited the park. Had they visited the park once, they would have restored it instead of converting it into a parking lot.
Faiza Hashmi, a resident of Satellite Town, said she used to bring her children to the park in the evening but ever since the park lost its greenery she rarely visits the park.
“Don’t you see the grassless area, puddles of dirty water all around? In such a situation, what is the use of this park?”
RMC converted eight kanals of the park into an amusement park some two decade ago. But in March, it got the land vacated from the contractor and decided to convert it into a parking lot.
A senior official of RMC said in 2012 all 53 parks of RMC were handed over to Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) but the civic body retained the eight kanals as it was earning money from the amusement park.
He said the RMC would lease out the play land annually and the last lease agreement expired in 2018 and since then the RMC did not give the play land on lease again.
He said due to play land and market, there was a shortage of space for vehicles of visitors to the market.
He said the RMC had made a plan to convert the area into a parking lot. He said the RMC was earning Rs425,000 per month from the play land but it would earn more by using the area for parking.
“Shopkeepers have been demanding a parking lot where they and the visitors to the main bazaar could park their vehicles,” he said.
However, when approached, RMC Chief Officer Ali Abbas said the parking lot was being developed on the portion of the land owned by the civic body and it was not a part of the park.
“We are not constructing cemented structure for parking of vehicles and not even cutting trees. We are working to use the land to facilitate the visitors and shopkeepers of the main market,” he said.
He said roadsides around Commercial Market Park were also used for parking and for the first time in the city electronic parking system would be introduced.
“The visitors will be given e-tickets which will end chances of car theft from the parking areas,” he said.
He said the RMC was working to improve the environment in and around bazaars so people can get fresh air instead of wasting time in traffic jams.
Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2021