ISLAMABAD: Finding itself between the devil and the deep sea, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on directions of Islamabad High Court (IHC) chalked out a comprehensive anti-encroachment drive spanning over 65 days aiming to rid the capital of ubiquitous encroachments.
Residents of the city, however, aired reservations or showed indifference on the matter. According to documents, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today, the operations had begun from 9th May and will conclude in the last week of October, 2018.
Covering all of Islamabad, the operation has a special focus on markets, parks, Marakiz and I&T centres. In addition, the operations would be against non-conforming use of private property for commercial activities in all sectors that fall in urban Islamabad and in the rural vicinities of Sinyari, Chontra, Bari Imam, Bara Kahu, Pidoorian and others.
Quite Interestingly, during the last phase of operation against encroachments in September, violations and illegal construction by Housing Societies in Sector E-11, D-12, North Ridge and G-15/F-15 are scheduled. The CDA is presently in the process of regularising the apartment complexes as well.
Hotels and malls like Centaurus, Serena, Marriott, F-6 and F-7 Markaz are also slated for anti-encroachment mega operation.
In total, 61 operations are to be conducted.
Authorities at CDA decided to involve all directorates including Planning, Building Control Section, Enforcement Directorate and Environment along with others to ensure prompt and smooth operations.
The city administration has also been asked to assign a magistrate and police contingent to tackle any untoward incident.
When seen in the context of multiple other events like the upcoming general elections, its member administration being on leave, a reticent Chairman CDA biding his time, a member planning slated for retirement in two months time, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) breathing down its neck, doubts have been raised over the latest operation.
“They have done so many anti-encroachment operations in the past, and within a month, the kiosks, the dhabas are back as if nothing had happened. Those who are connected and willing to grease the palms have no fear,” said Hammad Bashir, a software engineer working at a multinational company.
A kiosk owner whose establishment was razed during a recent anti-encroachment operation, on the condition of anonymity, alleged that he had been paying his ‘dues’ to the concerned officer.
“I’ve settled to pay a fixed amount every month in return of permission to run my small kiosk selling cigarettes and everyday items. However, one day they came with a truck and razed everything and confiscated my merchandise worth thousands,” he said adding that authorities must take action against such elements.
A real estate developer, Taha Zaidi was of the view that the timing of the operation is neither appropriate nor well-thought of.
“Amidst the chaos of upcoming elections and campaigns in the gruelling heat of June, July and August, it will be exceptionally hard for CDA to undertake such a grand operation. History will repeat itself and no concrete and permanent solution will come out,’ he added.