ISLAMABAD: Car dealers in the federal capital after encroaching upon parking lots earmarked for the general public are now cutting trees on the pavements and green belts to expand their showrooms, dealing a huge blow to the environment and green character of Islamabad, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The corrupt practice of encroaching dedicated parking areas was initiated by car dealers back in 2008-09. However, the boom of automobile barons reached its zenith in recent years and in order to display their merchandise, car dealers began snatching away parking areas of major markets like G-11, G-9, Blue Area and G-8. Some of them like G-8 of late have become no-go areas for the general public as there is virtually no slot to park. The state of affairs in main markets of Sector G-9 and G-11 is not much different either. Entire parking lots have been eaten up by imported sedans, hatchbacks, and SUVs ranging from a price range of a few lakhs to tens of millions.
The cutting of trees, however, is a new low that car dealers have stooped to. It is pertinent to mention here that in Islamabad, trees and plants on the green belt can only be cut or relocated by the Environmental Directorate once a NOC has been obtained from them. But the influential car dealer mafia being unbridled is ruining the environment for personal gains.
Sources at the Capital Development Authority (CDA) on the condition of anonymity told Pakistan Today that each time the enforcement wing asks car dealers to remove their merchandise from parking lots, they simply excuse themselves by denying ownership of the cars and say that the cars have been left there by actual owners. Many of them even claim to look after the cars in the absence of the owners.
Furthermore, these encroachments deny ambulances and other emergency services the way to reach places of emergency on time.
The CDA has initiated many drives against various forms of encroachments, non-conforming use of land and illegal structures in the capital. Every day press releases are issued regarding operations undertaken to free Islamabad of all such activities. However, the parking areas encroached and occupied by showroom owners in almost every sector of Islamabad do not get any mention anywhere. The tidal wave of imported Japanese cars that started back in mid-2000’s has now become a sector that creates jobs, contributes to the informal economy and has a very strong presence in both the market union and politics.
When contacted, CDA Spokesperson Malik Salim said that anti-encroachment operations are in full swing all over the city and city managers are making progress. “CDA is collaborating with market associations, especially markets like G-8 and G-9 Markaz. The dealers have assured us that the situation will very soon be resolved,” he said adding that the Environment Wing will take action against those responsible for causing problems for the public, pedestrians and the environment.