PHA silent over encroachments of parks


LAHORE: Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) is silent over the encroachment of parks located in Gulberg and adjoining areas of the Lahore despite a Supreme Court (SC) ban on using the parks for any reason other than recreation, Pakistan Today has observed.

The residents of the provincial capital are already facing a shortage of recreational places in the city and even then PHA has given free hand to builders and developers to encroach its public parks.

A similar situation has been witnessed in Gulberg-N Block where another park has fallen prey to encroachments at Zahoor Elahi road which is being used by a construction company.

The matter regarding encroaching public parks is against the law since Supreme Court in different cases has ordered authorities to remove encroachments and discourage the illegal use of parks by developers. Case in point are the SC’s rulings in Islamabad’s F-9 park and Karachi’s Lea Market, where the court deemed all encroachments illegal and ordered their removal.

Rahil, a resident of Gulberg N Block, talking to Pakistan Today said that even though the Zahoor Elahi park was a small park, it was the only park located near his home. “This was the only park I used for the morning walk while kids of the area used to play in it,” he said and added that for over two years the people of the area have not been able to use it”.

He alleged that initially the park was encroached by a newly established media house as the staffers of the organization started parking their vehicles in it. However, he said that after a protest of the residents, PHA constructed a boundary wall around it.

Rahil further said that since last year, the park has been given to a construction company who placed its machinery used in the construction of College Road.

An official in PHA showing his misery told Pakistan Today that they were helpless before any government project. He said that whenever government started any development project in the city, it encroaches the PHA’s parks without seeking permission.

The official further stated that the Zahoor Elahi park comes under the jurisdiction of Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) jurisdiction but PHA had to take it under control seeing no action by WASA after residents lodged their complaints.

“PHA took control over the park after WASA referred the residents to us,” he said and added that Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and Traffic Engineering and Transport Planning Agency (TEPA) freely use public parks in the city whenever the need for extra space arose.

This correspondent repeatedly tried to contact TEPA Chief Engineer Saif-ur-Rehman to take his comment over the issue but his number remained switched off.

PHA spokesperson on the other hand hoped that the encroachments from the park would be cleared very soon.