Capital’s anti-encroachment drive halted for ‘some time’

  • CDA spokesperson says operation will re-start soon

ISLAMABAD: After the initial blitzkrieg along the Kashmir Highway against illegal constructions and encroachments, it seems the civic agencies are facing some kind of bureaucratic hurdles, delays in the arrival of the machinery, protests by the opposition and pressure tactics used by the land mafia.

After the initial hue and cry from the victims, court orders from the Supreme Court, protests of the opposition leaders and locals, it seems that the civic authorities have halted the operation for some time to come. State Minister for Interior Affairs Shehryar Afridi ordered across-the-board operation against the encroachments and the illegal constructions.

Sources at CDA said that the rampant encroachment and the illegal construction were a failure on part of the Urban Planning Directorate that is tasked to undertake forward planning within the framework of the existing master plan of the urban area and to evaluate the requirements and determine the relationship between various land-uses.

The CDA Enforcement Directorate that is primarily trusted with assisting the Building Control Section and other factions to provide manpower and machinery to raze encroachments and enforce regulations have been under-staffed and ill-equipped to tackle such large-scale anti-encroachment operations.

“We are planning at the moment and the operation will continue soon. The vision has been set by the chairman and our formations of the Building Control Section and enforcement are busy planning to execute the operation in future,” CDA Director Safdar Shah said when contacted for a comment.

He denied that the operation was being halted till by-elections in NA-53 from where Prime Minister Imran Khan won and presently contested by former opposition leader in MCI Ali Nawaz Awan are concluded. On the directives of Imran Khan, CDA Chairman Afzal Latif had ordered last month to undertake the anti-encroachment operation in various localities.

The operation was all set to cover the nook and crannies of Islamabad with a special focus on markets, parks, I&T centres and against the non-conforming use of the private property for the commercial activities in all sectors that fall in urban and rural Islamabad. “We have been given in writing to halt our operations by the apex court and give them final notices of 14 days,” additional deputy commissioner said.

Also, the courts have ordered CDA to regularize properties and structures in the Bani Gala and other sectors within months, he said. “There are multiple sensitivities involved in the cases and they have to seek an opinion from their legal branch as well. We are analysing the order and all set to plan our future course of action accordingly,” he added.

State Minister Shehryar Afridi recently said that the grand anti-encroachment operation aimed to raze the illegal encroachments and state got the possession of the government land back from private housing authorities. He said that 33 thousand kanal land from the Bahria Enclave has been retrieved of which four hundred kanal is commercial land.