–MCL official says TMA staff allows encroachment
LAHORE: On one hand, Municipal Corporation Lahore (MCL) had made several announcements of taking action against the encroachment mafia but on the other hand, encroachment was in full swing in Data Ganj Buksh Town under the nose of the administration, Pakistan Today observed.
The officials, including the Lahore mayor, had been making announcements about making the city encroachment-free but the promises appeared to be hollow.
Data Ganj Buksh Town is one of the largest zones of the city, comprising of areas, including Data Darbar, Bilal Ganj, Anarkali, The Mall, Lower Mall, Hall Road, Garhi Shahu, Mayo Hospital, Lyton Road, Mozang, Sandha, Lakshmi Chowk, Raj Garh and others. Almost all the areas are famous for their commercial activities. While passing through any commercial areas of the cone, one could see that the roads had been encroached badly, leading to traffic congestion in the area. This was creating hurdles for customers and commuters. Besides this, these illegal businesses were causing loss of millions of rupees to the businesses.
In the past, the City District Government of Lahore (CDGL) had started a score of anti-encroachment drives but no drive could make the city encroachment-free.
Most encroachments were being carried out by the shopkeepers who had extended their businesses by encroaching the pavements in front of their shops while many others had allowed the vendors to run their businesses outside their shops against a small amount.
Sources in the zone revealed that the encroachment mafia was working under the protection of TMA staff as they allowed the hawkers and vendors to continue their businesses after receiving bribes.
“The bribe rate varies from area to area. It can be from Rs100 to Rs500 per day according to the nature of business and the value of the place occupied,” he said and added that TMA’s staff also informed their ‘clients’ prior to the raids of the anti-encroachment cell.
Moreover, sources said that often, while raiding, the anti-encroachment staff faced problems in taking action due to political pressure and the staff was now reluctant to act against many influential businessmen who were running their businesses in the area.
On the condition of anonymity, a MCL official admitted that the encroachment mafia in Data Ganj Buksh Town was helped by TMA’s staff.