LAHORE: A number of car showroom owners offered on Monday stiff resistance to a Lahore Development Authority (LDA) team that reached Jail Road (Mozang-Lahore College side) to launch a major anti-encroachment operation.
The owners parked their cars on the road, burnt tyres, throwing traffic out of gear for an hour and forcing the LDA team to call special anti-riot police to clear the thoroughfare. Many of them also unsealed their showrooms after the LDA sealed their business premises.
“The LDA team, led by additional director general (housing) retired Capt Shahmir Iqbal and directors (town planning) Ms Sidra Tabassum, Azhar Ali and Ali Abbas, reached Jail Road at about 9:30am along with heavy machinery, field officials and the police and started operation by removing extended shades, boards and floors,” one of the officials told Dawn.
He said when the team started operation, the showroom owners reached the site and started quarrelling with the LDA team. They, later, called some more people who reached the spot in three vehicles. And soon after reaching there, they parked vehicles in the middle of the road, blocked traffic and set tyres on fire.
55 showrooms sealed; anti-riot force manages traffic flow; those who unsealed premises to be booked
When the LDA team requested them to clear the road, they didn’t do so. On this, the ADG (housing) warned them to either open the road or face action that may turn into smashing their vehicles through the machinery. “As a result, they removed the cars from the road, but didn’t leave the place, prolonging the blockade. This left us with no option but to call anti-riot force that reached the spot within 15 minutes,” the official added.
He said the force along with other police officials managed to clear the road for traffic after pushing the owners, who also chanted slogans against LDA.
The official said when the showroom owners observed the situation deteriorating, they left the road and started removing their extended shades and boards on their own on a condition that the LDA team wouldn’t carry out the operation with machinery, which according to them, might damage vehicles parked in and outside the showrooms.
To a question, the official said most of the showrooms on Jail Road are illegal since they cannot be built on the land less than four kanals. Another issue is that the showrooms structures have also touched the zero line that has almost blocked service lanes.
“During the day-long operation, we sealed as many as 55 showrooms and some other premises besides demolishing the structures partially,” he said.
The official said the operation would also be carried out on other side of the Jail Road (Tollinton market-Mozang side) within the next few days. “After seeing the operation, the owners of the showrooms established on other side of the road also started removing boards, dismantling extended structures on their own,” the official said.
To another question, he said the LDA team has also filed applications with the respective police stations for registration of FIRs against all those who unsealed their premises besides offering resistance to the officials.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the LDA said during the operation, more than 60 showrooms, shops, bakeries and others business premises were sealed. Sheds, boards and porches of more than 80 shops were demolished. “Several notices had earlier been issued to the owners of the showrooms and shops before launch of the operation,” the spokesman said in a statement.
He said Lahore Commissioner/LDA DG Muhammad Ali Randhawa also directed the team to get cases registered against those who unsealed their business premises on their own. “Such operations aim at removing all kinds of encroachments to get allocated parking spaces cleared and ensure smooth flow of traffic,” he added.
Published in Dawn, June 6th, 2023