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Encroachers raise head in city once again

LAHORE: Encroachers have once again started reoccupying public spaces under the very nose of the district government despite their claims of ending the menace from the city during a month-long anti-encroachment operation.

The district government officers, with the help of Lahore Development Authority (LDA) and other government departments, removed a large number of encroachments from the provincial capital with a promise to keep the city clean and encroachment-free.

The operation is still going on but illegal occupants are returning and attempting to rebuild structures, including a large number of hotels, eateries, makeshift stalls and shops on public places like bus stops, main roads, streets, greenbelts, footpaths and other areas.

Key places where the phenomenon is evident include Lakshmi Chowk, Wahdat Road, Model Town Link Road, The Mall, Anarkali, Moon Market, Garhi Shahu, Mozang, Dharampura, Mughalpura, Walled City, Shah Alam Market, Gawalmandi and several other places.

The occupants have even started the rebuilding process at the Government Officer’s Residence I at Shah Shamas Qari Road and linked areas. The residents sent numerous complaints to the district government about the rebuilding of illegal structures, however, no action against the encroachers had been taken so far.

They also alleged that the encroachment campaign was an eye-wash exercise to reflect the government officers’ efficient working, however, the concerned town officers and LDA officials took bribes from the encroachers to keep their mouths shut.

They said that it was a good idea to remove encroachments from the city and the government had been partly successful in carrying it out, however, recklessness on part of the district officials badly affected the whole campaign and gave confidence to the encroachers to carry out their illegal activities.

The famous eateries on these roads, including Gawalmandi and Lakshmi Chowk area, have already reinstalled their encroachments on the roads and half of the roads still remain occupied causing the same traffic jams, pollution and other related problems, which people were expecting to get rid off after the operation.

Separately, the district government said that the government was determined to keep the city encroachment-free. “The anti-encroachment operation is continuing in full swing across the metropolis and the officers also removed illegal structures in the areas including Chah Meeraan, Yateem Khana, Band Road, Main Multan Road, Ittefaq Town, Mansoora, Thokar Niaz Beg, Raiwind Road, Ali Town, Neela Gunmbad, Secretariat, Naq Market, Mall Road and other places on Tuesday,” said sources from the district government.

They also requested the citizens to cooperate and provide full support for the campaign. They promised that the district government would take strict action against people who would try rebuilding the encroachments, however, the public too should provide timely warnings and information to the government about people involved in such illegal activities so that proper action could be taken against them.

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