islamabad - With the introduction of local government system in the capital city, the action against encroachments has gone slow — thanks to political pressure on Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials and direct interference of the elected representatives into the authority’s affairs.

The number of raids by the anti-encroachment teams has considerably gone down since the elected representatives took charge of the city’s development and beautification in February this year as compared to the ones conducted in three months prior to the introduction of LG system in the city.

“The number of raids has come to almost one third of what was three months before,” the officials in the CDA said.

Let it be shopping markets, open space, roads or the residential areas, the encroachments are on the rise which are not only making the city ugly but also creating problems for shoppers.

Vendors have encroached upon almost all the pavements and parking lots in the city markets.

Shopkeepers reportedly charge money from the vendors for setting up stalls in front of their outlets. Not only the shopkeepers charge the vendors, but the CDA officials also mint money from the vendors in return for allowing them to set up stalls in front of the shops.

As far as commercial markets are concerned, shopkeepers are the main reason for mushroom growth of encroachments, reveals a survey of the city. In past, whenever, the CDA tried to launch a campaign to remove the encroachments, influential people got it stopped but elected representatives are now an addition to the arena.

Sources in the enforcement directorate of the authority told The Nation that the officials were under tremendous pressure of the elected representatives to share the details of anti-encroachment plans with them before moving to their respective constituencies.

“If you are so daring, get ready for the consequences,” the officials said, referring to the pressure from the UC chairmen, on condition of anonymity.

The worst form of encroachment is illegal possession of state land and selling it to others. Organized land mafia is active in the city and even the nullahs and forests are no exception.

The enforcement directorate until recent past was active to retrieve state land from illegal possession but such kind of operations are very rare now.

The reason is the same; political pressure . Sources said that sometimes the enforcement teams were called back after the mayor was contacted by LG representative during the course of action.

The sources said that with CDA under the charge of Mayor Islamabad in September 2016, the elected representatives have now more say in the authority’s affairs that are driven by political ambitions.

CDA has always been very lenient as far as organized encroachments are concerned due to fear of retaliation and as a result innumerable illegal slums, mosques and other structures can be seen in the city.

State land, particularly in the suburbs of the city is vulnerable to fall into the hands of land mafia with those involved in illegal constructions are immune from any action and CDA is just a silent spectator to the situation.

At some places, the roads are completely closed. The encroachers include local residents, foreign residents, embassies and even the government organizations. All of this is being done in the name of security.

The CDA Enforcement Wing demolishes an illegal construction one day and the next day construction of two new buildings starts at the same site which reflects no writ of the government in the capital.

The national assembly had taken notice of an illegally constructed independent house by an official of the CDA’s Building Control Section, adjacent to his government residence in sector F-6, but has been unable to remove the structure so far.

The illegality of Assistant Director Khalid Khokhar was pointed out in July this year during a meeting of the subcommittee of the Public Accounts Committee.

Interestingly, the capital city has two more fruit markets besides Sunday Bazaars. The main fruit market has now expanded up to the Mandi Morr area in sector I-11 along the IJ Principal road but hardly anyone from the CDA seems willing to move against it.

Same is the scene at Khanna Pul where hundreds of vendors are doing business on the state land. Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan and it is a master plan city with several beautiful natural views. Due to so many encroachments, the natural views of the city have blurred the beauty of Islamabad.

When contacted for comments, CDA spokesman said that the authority was conducting regular operations against the encroachments and there was no political pressure on the CDA officials.