HAFIZABAD-Although the district administration has retrieved over 2200 kanals of state land from the land grabbers, it has failed to start anti-encroachment campaign inside the city which has resulted in traffic mess on all busy roads.

A survey report reveals that all roads particularly the busiest intersections have been occupied in the form of pushcarts and parking lots under the patronage of civic officials and traffic police.

The provincial government has strictly directed the administration throughout the Punjab to make the Clean and Green campaign successful but the administration is promoting encroachment culture by ignoring the direction causing a lot of hardship and inconvenience to pedestrians and motorists alike.

According to official sources, 6 acres of land of Auqaf Department located in front of DHQ Hospital Hafizabad worth billions of rupees has been occupied by influential persons in collusion with the officials of the Auqaf Department. Some time past, the then Deputy Commissioner (Muhammad Ali Randhawa) had demarcated the land by constructing concrete pillars and by laying barbed wires but the said influential grabbers demolished the pillars, removed the barbed wires and constructed shops and houses over it.

Similarly, when the anti-encroachments campaign was announced by the provincial government, the authorities here had made demarcation of different roads particularly narrow roads and directed the shopkeepers to demolish 5 to 8 feet illegal constructions in front of their shops but no practical step has so far been taken by the administration to demolish such encroachments.

It is interesting to note that one plaza owner on Jalalpur Road near Fawara Chowk has demolished about five feet of encroached land in front of his building himself due to fear that the administration might demolish his whole plaza. No other shopkeeper has so far bothered to demolish illegal portion of their shops. The shopkeepers, however, removed sunshades in front of their shops on the order of the local administration which were meant for saving their merchandise from rain and sun.

Moreover, the authorities here had constructed beautiful cabins in front of tehsil office and city police station to give a new look to the locality and rented them out to flower vendors but due to unknown reasons the administration demolished them recently. These cabins were never created any traffic problems, following which the vendors started their business on the footpaths, which presented ugly look.

It is pertinent to mention here that soon after her posting as DC Hafizabad, Saliha Saeed (at present DC Lahore) launched a vigorous campaign to remove encroachments on busiest roads and taken several steps to give New Look to the city by removing Augean Stable.

She had taken bold steps and never yielded to any pressure of public representatives and a mafia behind the encroachers and declared 8 red zones in the city where parking of rickshaws and other encroachments had been prohibited and due to her keen interest, encroachments were removed to a great extent and sanitary conditions in the city were improved.

She herself monitored the campaigns and appointed a young councillor Haji Amjad Pervez Chatha of MC to supervise the campaigns but soon after her transfer, encroachments were not only resurfaced but further multiplied on the behest of public representatives, traders and mafia.

After the general election the situation further worsened and all sorts of encroachments have been further multiplied as administration, elected representatives and mafia were promoting encroachment culture by ignoring all sorts of encroachments on most of the city roads and narrow lanes particularly Gujranwala road, Faisal Bazaar, Fawara Chowk, inside Main gate, Old Kachehri Bazaar, Post Office road, Qatal Garrha Chowk, Kassoki road, Alipur road, Vanike road.

Furthermore, influential persons have set up twenty seven housing societies in the district by violating rules and regulations of the government while the authorities concerned have so far failed to take legal action against the owners of such societies who have been fleecing the public. According to a survey conducted by this scribe, 27 such societies have been set up in Hafizabad city, Pindi Bhattian, Jalalpur Bhattian and Sukheke Mandi, of which only one colony in Hafizabad city has been approved.

The owners of these societies/colonies never bothered to provide infrastructures and other amenities and have sold out plots to the citizens after getting million of rupees. No site plans have been approved and all the colonies lack sui gas, electricity, sewerage, potable water and sanitary staff facilities.

The dwellers of these societies have protested against lack of necessary amenities and have been requesting and protesting against the sad state of affairs but the administration have not yet made up their minds to take appropriate action against the violators of law.

The local citizens have called upon the Chief Minister of the Punjab and Commissioner Gujranwala to direct the district administration particularly civic authorities to make sincere efforts to remove encroachments from the city particularly from the busiest intersections and narrow lanes as well as to take action against the illegal housing colonies/societies and force the owners to provide necessary amenities in the colonies.