LAHORE: The bureaucracy of Pakistan needs a movement, just like the lawyers movement, that can set them free from political pressures and influences and enable them to function independently in the best interest of the country and its people, instead of powerful individuals.
There are illegal encroachments on as many as 42,858 kanals of land only in Lahore district. Out of the encroached upon land, 8,922 kanals belong to the provincial government, 28,765 kanals to the federal government, 1,592 to the Auqaf Department and 3,297 kanals to miscellaneous departments.
These revelations were made by the guests at the Jang Forum held on ‘The Drive Against the Culture of Illegal Encroachment’. The guests at the forum included Lahore DCO Ahad Cheema, Malik Imtiaz Awan, Raja Hamid Riaz, Sardar Usman Ghani, Khalid Pervez, Mohammad Ashraf Bhatti and Ali Abbas. The forum was hosted by eminent journalist Iftikhar Ahmed.
The forum was held in relevance to the upcoming drive against illegal encroachment by the city district government. Initially, the encroachers will be requested to remove the encroachments themselves but, afterwards, all those refusing to comply with the request will be taken to task by the district government.
Ahad Cheema said that the city belonged to the people and it was the duty of the people to take care of it by abiding by the laws protecting its sanctity. The current state of the markets and roads, due to the plague of encroachment, had become so troublesome that it was getting harder with every passing day even to walk through them, let alone drive a vehicle.
Conceding the fact that there was a lack of infrastructure, such as parking plazas and pit-fronts, the DCO said the public should amend their behavior and develop a sense of responsibility, owning the city.
He said that special monitoring cells had been set up to lodge complaints against the people carrying out the drive so that the whole process was carried out with utmost transparency.
Khalid Pervez said that in the past, the drives against encroachment had failed because those running the drives had to give in before bribe, pressure, or in some case both. He said that the most important factor that would decide the success or failure of the upcoming drive would be the follow-up of the campaign.
Raja Hamid Riaz said that the main reason behind why people were involved in encroachments was the lack of infrastructure. No parking space and poorly maintained sidewalks contributed a lot to encroachments, he said, adding that the government should first provide infrastructure and then penalise those violating the law.
Sardar Usman Ghani said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry had always supported all the efforts against illegal encroachments, and it would fully back the DCO this time again. He said that the performance of the monitoring cell would play a key role during and after the operation. He proposed regional monitoring cells in different towns, to keep a regular check on the activity regarding illegal encroachments as a regular feature.
The representatives of all trade and shopkeepers associations, unions, members of the Lahore Chamber and Commerce and Industry and town municipal officers gave assurance of their support for the upcoming drive against illegal encroachments, terming it a much-needed measure for convenience of the citizens.