LDA too lazy to crack the whip

LAHORE – Lahore Development Authority Director General Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, branded as Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s favourite, is allowing massive illegal commercialisation along the Canal Bank Road showing utter disregard of the to strict ban imposed by District Planning and Design Committee headed by LahoreCommissioner Jawad Rafiq.

Location of Lahore, in Punjab.

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Per rough survey, more than 1,000 illegal commercial units including marriage halls, schools, clinics and plazas have occupied over 22 kilometres along the Canal Bank Road under Shaheen’s auspice. This unauthorised practice is triggering massive traffic congestion and gridlocks and this is happening at the time when canal widening plan, under which road is being broadened on three points to prevent traffic jams, is underway at full throttle.

With untiring struggle recently Punjab government won the case in Supreme Court and started widening the Canal Bank Road by chopping down more than 500 trees to ease traffic flow but Shaheen is looking to work against the plan by allowing commercial activities either by taking illegal gratification or being lacklustre over the issue.

District Planning and Design Committee under Rules-51 of LDA Land Use Classification (Classification, Reclassification and Redevelopment) vide notification No SO (H-II) 5-2/81 issued notification to ban all sort of commercialisation on Canal Bank Road including other roads in a bid to prevent traffic congestion, avoid irregular urban growth and unbalanced commercial activities.

Last year, then Lahore commissioner Khusrau Pervaiz also made a policy of banning commercial activity on Canal Bank Road on which CDGL served notices to all illegal commercial units including more than 70 wedding halls.

Before imposing prohibition, the committee shifted the authority to control and regulate the Canal Bank Road from CDGL to LDA.

An official in LDA told Pakistan Today that the District Planning and Design Committee had banned 24 roads including Canal Bank Road from Jallo to Thokar and Khiyaban-e-Jinnah from Shaukat Khanam Hospital to Raiwind Road. Contrary to Canal Bank Road, Khaiyaban-e-Jinnah is called Royal Route of the Sharifs. Shaheen had put a strict ban on commercialisation on the Royal Route. “Ban is so drastic that two director and two deputy directors have been suspended on the issue of illegal commercial units at Khiyaban-e-Jinnah,” he added.

Even a plaza was demolished at Johar town near BOR society, killing 4 labourers, by the LDA on the instruction of Shaheen on the basis of illegal commercialisation. Move against illegal commercialisation are also seen on other parts of city even in Gulberg. However, in case of Canal Bank Road, DG is turning a blind eye.

On the other hand, LDA devised a new commercialisation policy to boost business-related activities in the city on July 1. The new ‘business friendly’ commercialisation policy has been issued for 58 roads situated in various housing schemes as well as the area controlled by the LDA. The new policy envisages permission for all types of business activity on roads allowed for commercialisation, wavier on the conditions regarding construction of multi-storey buildings with basements, size of plots, green belt, parking and open space. The permission does not include the Canal Bank Road.

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