Land worth Rs1.24bn recovered during Shah Alam Market operation


–35 shops demolished, other encroachments removed from outside 295 shops as part of ‘Mission Clean Lahore’

–Operation to be extended to Sarafa Bazaar, Sada Karaan Bazaar, other adjoining areas of Shah Alam Market


LAHORE: In a massive anti-encroachment operation being held as part of “Mission Clean Lahore”, total land worth Rs1.24 billion was recovered from mafia in the Shah Alam Market on Tuesday.

According to the details, Metropolitan Corporation Lahore (MCL) and the Walled City of Lahore Authority (WCLA) are conducting the operation in different parts of Old Lahore.

On Tuesday, WCLA’s Building Control Wing demolished at least 35 shops and removed other encroachments such as platforms and extensions from outside as many as 295 shops. Notices were also served to 28 shop owners.

Sources informed Pakistan Today that WCLA had previously tried to conduct an operation inside Shah Alam Market in 2016 but the death of a local trader following a cardiac arrest had resulted in aggression and agitation from the traders’ community.

“The operation had been aborted and a case had been registered with the police.”

However, this time, the government and police are supporting WCLA as the operation is being conducted in line with the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

“WCLA had tried launching encroachment removal operations in the past but due to the lack of security and support from the local police, they had failed most of the times. This operation is a success because of the support the authority has gathered from the high court and district administration,” they added.

“I have been living here for past several decades and have seen the market turn into a traders’ hub. There is hardly a day when we do not come across a fight between different groups of traders. A number of people have also died in firing incidents amid the brawls,” said a resident of the area, Muhammad Aziz.

He expressed satisfaction over the government’s decision to remove the encroachments and said the illegal shops resulted in traffic gridlocks that were a huge problem for the locals.

WCLA Building Control Assistant Director Usman Diwan, while talking to Pakistan Today, said they were carrying out a massive cleanup campaign following the instructions of the high court.

“We will be bringing back the 1923 look of the Shah Alam Market and also have patwaris in our team, who are guiding us about the division of land.”

Usman said that a team of almost 55 persons was conducting the operation. “They include 35 workers, 10 policemen and our own team of enforcement inspectors as well as officers.”

“The total number of demolished structures and removed encroachments is counted after the completion of operation every day. Fortunately, there has been no agitation from the traders this time and we are moving on with full spirit and pace,” he said.

He added that according to patwaris, the land recovered so far, was worth around Rs1.24 billion.

“We will now be moving to the adjoining areas like Sarafa Bazaar, Sada Karaan Bazaar, electronics market and others besides also conducting the same operation inside streets and sub-streets of the Shah Alam Market.”

Usman further added that heavy machinery, including bulldozers, excavators, cranes and grinders, were being used in the operation along with manual equipment.

WCLA Conservation and Planning Director Najam Saquib informed Pakistan Today that the operations were halted at midnight and resumed early morning the next day.

“We appreciate the support of the high court and district government and I believe that the lost beauty of Old Lahore cannot be restored unless the encroachments are removed.”