ISLAMABAD  – The encroachments across the residential and commercial areas of Islamabad are constantly challenging the beauty of federal capital as well as writ of the Capital Development Authority (CDA). Vendors with their stalls set up on roadside, chappar hotels and kiosks on right-of-the-way, shopkeepers displaying sellable items on footpaths feature the commercial and residential areas of Islamabad.

But, the city fathers seem to be helpless before this nuisance. Though apparently the encroachers look small business holders but the officials claim that they were backed by a strong mafia.

To rid city of the encroachments, the CDA had upgraded its anti-encroachment directorate into Enforcement Directorate equipping it with more manpower and machinery. But all in vain, as CDA’s anti-encroachment drive is considered just a mock exercise.

Having sight of the CDA’s trucks with carrying Enforcement staff, the encroachers rush away along with their belongings but as it moves ahead, they resettle their businesses on the footpaths or roadside. In his comments, a CDA official said the basic factor was the lack of constant vigilance on the encroachers for what the CDA lacked required manpower.

The worst scene of encroachments is the bus stands at Faizabad and around Pir Wadhai, both located on the verge of twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

“Whenever we carry out an operation at these bus stands, the vendors move towards Rawalpindi rendering us powerless. In some cases, they use force too against the CDA men,” he commented. The encroachers have raised permanent structures on CDA land but the officials concerned are oblivious to the situation, in what the violators claim to be paying bribe.

Besides, Karachi Company, Abpara, Melody markets, G-10, G-8 Markaz and Blue Area are also no exception to this. “Yes, the CDA men irritate me. The only solution to save myself from their operation is to grease their palms,” said Ramzan

Abbasi, a vendor in Abpara Market, requesting anonymity.

The encroachers also grab the right of pedestrians who have to walk on roads that sometime also risk their lives. Particularly the women and children feel threatened of being hit by any vehicle while moving alongside the road, in some instances accidents had also been reported.

In the recent past, PPP MNA Khurram Raza Wattoo had tabled a bill in the National Assembly proposing up to Rs 1 million fine and five year-imprisonment for encroachers and sacking of the official concerned in case of negligence.

However, the bill could not be passed after the CDA viewed that in such case, anyone can encroach upon the CDA land to prove official’s negligence out of vengeance.

In his remarks, the CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid, the removal of encroachments was a constant process and the CDA had deployed inspectors in all of the sectors to keep strict vigilance. He advised the residents to approach the officers concerned if any of them is found involved in taking bribe.

He said the CDA Chairman Tahir Shahbaz had been striving to improve its positive image among the residents that had been undermined due to mismanagement and irresponsible attitude of the workers in the recent years.