ABBOTTABAD: The second round of anti-encroachment campaign at the Karakorum Highway (KKH) here is likely to start within the next 48 hours, sources told The News.
Despite threats by traders, who have been pressuring the local administration through politicians, the authorities seem determined to carry out the long-awaited anti-encroachment drive.
The campaign’s first round, which was started on November 21, 2013 by the district administration with the collaboration of the National Highway Authority (NHA) and Cantonment Board, has been completed. The NHA took action against 86 violators on 9km stretch of road during the drive.
According to the NHA bylaws, construction on 65 feet from the centre of the road on both sides is prohibited, whereas there are illegal constructions on both sides of the road.
The operation, which was supervised by Assistant Commissioner Osama Warraich, told The News that work on the remaining 20-30 percent road would start just after issuance of notices to the encroachers.
The official said the local administration would not compromise on this issue despite the pressure by the encroachers. It has been learnt that a joint meeting of the NHA and Municipal Committee, held at the assistant commissioner’s office, had decided the strategy for the operation.
On the other hand, owners of the buildings including CNG stations, hotels and shops in remaining two kilometres area, from the Army Burnhall College for Girls to Sabzi Mandi, are opposing the move by claiming that the Municipal Committee has approved their building maps and was continuously collecting taxes from them.
Dr Sher Afzal, owner of a multi-storey building at Sarban Chowk, termed the move unjustified and said a number of people would be rendered jobless.
Tanveer Hussain, owner of the Sarban CNG Station, claimed that they were yet to receive any notice from the NHA or Municipal Committee, Abbottabad. He said the government should compensate those affected by the campaign or else they would have the right to react in defence.
Traders of Mansehra Road in their joint meeting also developed a strategy to counter the move. They approached the local political leadership to intervene in the matter.
They have reportedly discussed the issue with legal experts as well. Some of them argued that the government should expand the road from right side, where entire land is owned by the government, instead of damaging established businesses on left side of the highway.
According to building bylaws of the Municipal Committee, maps were conditionally approved by mentioning that if the highway authorities intend to widen the road, owners of the building would have no right to take any legal course of action.
Municipal Officer Mazhar Awan said that under Section 17 of the building bylaws, the owner of the building would be bound to follow the rules and regulations of National Highway Authority/Frontier Highway Authority accordingly in the MC jurisdiction.
Section 47 of the Local Government Act 2005, replicated in 2013, says that “no person shall make an encroachment, movable or immovable, on an open space or land vested in or managed, maintained or controlled by a local government or on/over, under a street, road, graveyard within its local area or a drain.”
As the KKH is neither managed, maintained or controlled by the Local Council and Municipal Committee, the NHA bylaws shall be entirely enforced in this regard, Mazhar Awan said.