KHANEWAL/MANDI BAHAUDDIN-The nuisance of encroachments by shopkeepers is on the rise while the authorities concerned are reluctant to take action against the influential encroachers.

Mandi Bahauddin is one of the Punjab cities that were built before partition with wide bazaars and streets according to proper planning. Grain market spreads over large area to provide enough space for placing agriculture produce for selling and auction. But now it has been narrowed by hand carts and stalls across the market making it difficult for farmers to bring agriculture produce to the market.

Over the passage of time, the traders started placing their commodities in bazaars in front of their shops. Even the footpaths constructed by Municipal Administration for pedestrians are occupied by the traders leaving no space for customers to walk. The traders dealing in construction material place all types of woods and iron made items in the bazaars and blacksmiths prepare doors and windows there giving a look of workshops and factories.

In addition, rickshaws and other vehicles are parked leaving no place for customers to walk. On public complaints, the administration removed encroachments several times but again the traders with backing of political leaders reoccupied the bazaars. The nuisance is not only prevalent in the city, similar situation is on roads where the traders and dealers have encroached upon roads in front of their business centres, leaving no space for pedestrians and motorists to travel.

People of the area irked by massive encroachments, have urged Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif to provide them with relief by getting the encroachments removed from the city and roads through local administration.

On the other side, the Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) of Khanewal has started removing encroachments from roads, chowks and bazaars of Khanewal town.

It had previously issued notices to the shopkeepers and vendors, giving them one month to remove illegal structures in front of their shops that were congesting the roads. After the deadline passed, the administration teamed up with security forces and police, and started removing billboards, pushcarts and other items placed outside the permissible limits of the shops. The move has been highly appreciated by people from all walks of life, including civil society, residents, political and religious figures especially females and children.

Chairman Masood Majeed while taking to the newsman said, “We give the traders a deadline but only a few of them followed the instructions leaving us with no choice but to launch this operation. We will strictly enforce the rules to keep Khanewal bazaars clean. No shopkeeper will be allowed to dump goods on the footpath and any goods found there in the future will be seized.”

He further said, “This was a very necessary step - Khanewal city was getting narrower day by day.” Masood Daha assured the newsman that the anti-encroachment campaign would not be limited to Khanewal City, rather it would be extended to other surrounding areas of the Khanewal city in jurisdiction of TMA Khanewal.