Islamabad has long been in the grip of two problems that seem to have no solution. The first problem is the commercial use of residential properties and the second being the issue of encroachments. Despite strict guidelines and laws of the Capital Development Authority in the last decade hundreds of commercial establishments popped up in the city’s residential sectors. Schools, colleges, hospitals, academies, beauty parlous and offices of political parties were among just a few of the violators.
The city administration turned a blind eye to this problem and the problem grew from bad to worse. There are a number of problems associated with the use of residential properties as commercial establishments. Not only is it in total violations of the law but it also causes immense problems for the citizens. Since residential areas have narrow streets and no designated parking areas; the commercial establishment result in serious traffic problems as roads are choked when people visit these illegal commercial spaces. Residents are deprived of privacy and have to suffer due to the traffic gridlock.
The other problem is that commercial spaces are required to pay a premium for facilities such as electricity, gas and even water. When residential areas are used for commercial purpose the city and relevant departments are deprived of this premium that is charged from commercial areas. This causes losses amounting to millions of rupees.
The other major issue is that of encroachment; be it any commercial area of the city or residential area, empty spaces are taken up by encroachers. The encroachments mean that commercial areas in Islamabad suffer from massive traffic issues and in most cases shopper don’t even have any room to walk in the markets, since all space is grabbed by these encroachers. Despite repeated actions by the Capital Development Authority these encroachers miraculously resurface hours after the operation by the authority which hints at clear collusion between the encroachment and the officials of the authority.
Mayor and Chairman Capital Development Authority Sheikh Anser Aziz since assuming power has tried his bit to fix these issues, but with little success. In a recent interview in Roze News program Sachi Baat the mayor vowed to take strict action against every violator. The Mayor’s vow of action is promising but it sounds wishful at best.
The Islamabad Mayor needs to back his words with action.