- Beauty saloons, medical centers in residential areas operating in violation of Cantonment Act 1924/MEO Lease
RAWALPINDI: Rampant commercial activity in residential areas of Rawalpindi Cantonment has become a major headache for residents of the Rawalpindi Cantonment. Various beauty saloons, medical centers, fitness centers, schools and private academies are operating in the residential areas without any check in complete violation of the Cantonment Act, 1924.
According to the section 179 of the Cantonment Act, 1924 whoever intends to erect or re-erect any building in a cantonment shall also apply for sanction by giving notice in writing of his intention to the board. The section 180 of the cantonment act, 1924 is particularly important, according to section 180, a person giving the notice required by section 179 shall specify the purpose for which it is intended to use the building to which such notice relates. Hence if the sanction for a residential building is granted by the board, the owner cannot use it as a commercial building.
The number of houses in residential areas that are being used for commercial purposes are on the rise and are a cause of massive problems for the residents. Due to the unchecked commercial activity in residential areas streets and roads are often choked and traffic crawls at a snails pace. Long queues of vehicles are seen outside schools and colleges operating in residential areas in peak hours which blocks off the roads for commuters. Even ambulances find it difficult to maneuver through the congested roads. The growing use of residential areas as commercial spaces is also violating the privacy of the residents. It is also pertinent to mention that many of these commercial places in residential areas are being charged electricity bills on the tariff fixed for residential areas, which is also a breach of laws as any commercial place has to be charged the tariff set for commercial users. It is also pertinent to mention that under the MEO lease agreement under which the cantonment land is allotted no commercial activity can be carries in residential areas. However despite the fact, residential areas in Westridge I, Westridge II and Westridge III have become commercial zones.
In Westridge I house 339-A a private clinic is being run, similarly in house 182-A a beauty clinic is being operated, house number 204 is home to Roots International school, house 144 houses a branch of the Beaconhouse school system, Shaukat Ibrar medical center is operating in house 145-A, National officers academy is house in house 147, a private dental clinic by the name of Fareeha Dental clinic is operating in house 19 on the service road in Westridge I, house number 20 is home to Rehmat Medical Center, House 118-B on Khursheed Alam Road is home to Global Education Academy, Oriental Grammar School is operating in house 116 on main service road, a parlor, gym and boutique is operating under the name of Rubya’s in house 86 Westridge I, Dr. Nisar Diagnostic Center is operating in house 78.
A resident of the area talking to the scribe said that residents have filed complaints on multiple occasions against the private clinic run by Dr. Shahid Siddique in house 339-A in Westridge I but not action has been taken. He further added that previously the clinic was housed in just a single story but not another story is under construction which is blatant violation of all laws of Cantonment Board. Residents also claimed that the clinic is run by a influential person who is a retired Army officer and that is why no action is taken against him despite numerous complaints.
It is pertinent to mention that the above mentioned clinic run by Dr. Shahid Siddique in house 339-A in Westridge I, beauty parlor operating in house 182-A in the said area and Roots International School housed in house 204 have all been established recently which negates the claims by the Cantonment authorities that strict action is being taken against the commercialization of the residential areas. Disgruntled residents have asked the Rawalpindi Station Commander, Brigadier Zahid Ahmed Rana to take notice of the severe irregularities that have made life impossible for the residents of the Rawalpindi Cantonment.