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February 20, 2016
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Sewage, garbage heaps, open manholes: welcome to NA-120

Lahore

February 20, 2016

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LAHORE

Devil-may-care attitude of the city administration to address civic problems seems visible even in the VVIP constituency like NA-120 from where none other than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself has been elected as MNA.

The lethargy on part of the city officials, lack of interest shown by sitting MPAs to address public grievances and powerless elected local government members are key reasons behind the all time multiplying woes of the people, particularly living in the areas of PP-139, a provincial seat falling under NA-120.

Large heaps of garbage, ponds of dirty water which are a constant source of mosquito breeding, drainage water accumulated on roads, open manholes posing serious life risks to minors, unavailability of clean drinking water are some of the hallmarks of PP-139, a seat falling under the Royal Constituency.

Sewage and rainwater, gathered in large amount in vast open plots covering several kanals, having depth of at least four to five feet is enough to claim the life of any minor but nothing has been done by the staffers concerned, said the local people of Shafiqabad. 

Main areas of NA-120, which comprises of two PP seats, including PP-139 and PP-140 from where Bilal Yasin and Majid Zahur are MPAs respectively. The areas under this seat include Mozang, Lytton Road, Temple Road, Nisbat Road which include in PP-140 whereas areas falling in PP-139, Mohni Road, Data Darbar Complex, some parts of Ravi Road, Shafiqabad, Gulshan Colony, Malipura and Kasurpura.

The political significance of this area can well be assessed from the fact that Muslim League, since 1990 has never lost any election from here. From the provincial seats, even the sitting Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had been elected in past whereas other than Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the figures like Makhdum Javed Hashmi (1993 by-polls when Shahbaz Sharif vacated NA-96), Pervaiz Malik (2002) and Bilal Yasin (2008).

In the 2013 general elections, Nawaz Sharif won from this seat against Dr Yasmin Rashid of PTI. PPP, once a party with large vote bank has almost vanished from political scene now.

Nevertheless, the local people, particularly the PML-N voters complained that love shown by them to the party hasn’t been reciprocated as their state was not less than slum dwellers.

Almost entire NA-120 falls under Data Ganj Bakhsh Town and belongs to Lahore City. Unfortunately, the area which should be serving as a model constituency for the rest of country parts still struggles against basic facilities of life for a large population which every month pays direct or indirect taxes to the government.

A lot of expectations nursed by the voters in the LG polls held a few months ago are still unfulfilled as still the city administration enjoys full-fledged powers and the elected representatives are acting as nothing but rubber stamps.

Bilal Yasin, the former MNA from the same seat and now the MPA elected from PP-139 is also seldom seen among people of these areas, which are situated just half a mile away from Lahore Metro Bus route.

When the team of The News visited the ignored parts of NA-120, it was revealed that city administration seems completely indifferent to the public troubles and the measures to remove garbage, anti-mosquito spray or anything for the relief of local people are not seen very often.

The situation around Data Darbar complex, the shrine of Hazrat Ali Hajveri (RA) visited by millions of devotees every year seems pathetic from sanitation point of view. Sheikh Hindi Street, situated just adjacent to the Data Darbar complex, and quite close to the route of metro bus seems in deplorable and shabby state owing to the indifferent attitude of the administration concerned as well as the elected representatives.

The street has been inundated by sewage water and time and again, attention of Wasa officials as well as sitting MPA Bilal Yasin has been drawn towards the issue but all went in vain. “We personally visited the MPA, showed him the photographs of this area but nothing was done” said Mian Shahbaz, a local resident. Waseem, a hair dresser as well as Mohammad Khan and many other local residents came hard on authorities for ignoring the area and taking no measures for the relief of the people.

What offends people most is that this affected area is situated just a few hundred yards from the offices of DCO as well as the Assistant Commissioner but none of the senior officials of Lahore administration, according to local people have bothered to visit this street which is situated so close to the holy shrine.

The News contacted Moazzam Paracha, the newly elected Chairman of Union Council 54 which covers the surrounding areas of Data Darbar, including the Sheikh Hindi street but he expressed his complete helplessness to address the drainage issue till date.

“I have personally visited the area along with the local Wasa officials, the issue can’t be addressed over night and we have conveyed our complaints” said Moazzam Paracha. He also stated that till date, the entire process of local government elections, polls of Mayor, Deputy Mayor etc hadn’t been completed. “We don’t have powers at the moment as the LG poll process is still underway, but at the same time, we are doing all we can to tackle the challenges faced by the people” said Moazzam Paracha.

The political parties, particularly Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf criticised the PML-N government for the deplorable situation of the area.

Dr Yasmin Rashid, ticket holder of PTI from NA-120 while talking to The News said that a large number of population lived in this constituency but they were leading a miserable life and did not even have access to clean drinking water. Moreover, she said that the sanitary situation of this VVIP constituency told a clear story to the nation that rulers were not interested in addressing the public complaints. Malik Usman, a PTI ticket holder from a Shafiqabad Union Council stated that rulers must realise that this was an area when human beings reside and they must be treated like human beings.

The News contacted Bilal Yasin, the MPA elected from the same area in 2002, MNA elected in 2008 and again MPA in 2013 for his response to the criticism by political rivals as well as local residents over the situation of the area.

Talking to The News, Bilal Yasin, the Provincial Minister and sitting MPA from PP-139 expressed complete satisfaction with the situation of his constituency.

“Why do people elect us and vote us to power, just because we deliver” said Bilal Yasin. When he was told about the poor sanitary situation surrounding the Data Darbar complex, he stated entire surroundings of the shrine didn’t fall in his constituency. He said that the government was taking all measures to address public complaints.

Responding to the complaints of people related with PP-140 which mostly pertained to encroachments and drainage, Majid Zahur, the MPA from the seat stated that since he got elected, he had been regularly in contact with people and taking all possible measures to redress their complaints. He stated it was true that the area of Mozang was struggling hard against the drainage and sewage issue but it wasn’t the matter of a year or two, but for last 60 years or more.

He said that matter had also been taken up before the chief minister and situation would improve a lot in future. He also said that the PML-N government had also set up number of tube-wells, water filtration plants and was still working on a plan to provide further relief to the population.

A major complaint received from different corners was related with lack of cooperation and coordination of CDGL bodies to the public or their representatives.

Over the drainage and sewage issue, The News contacted Wasa Managing Director Chaudhry Naseer who while responding to the complaints stated that most of the area of PM’s constituency mainly pertained to the domain of the town concerned. He stated that if there existed ‘any’ issue belonging to Wasa, it would be addressed.

Assistant Commissioner City Asim Salim while talking to The News stated that there was no denying the facts that problems did exist but at the same time, his team was efficiently working to tackle them. He dispelled the impression that that there was any lack of coordination among the CDGL bodies, adding that he himself worked ‘15 to 16 hours’ to fulfill his responsibilities.

To a question about the measures taken by CDGL to prevent the chances of dengue, malaria or any disease outbreak, Asim Salim replied that there was no risk of dengue at the moment. However, he said his team was vigilantly working to handle any issue related with disease outbreak.

Lahore Waste Management Managing Director, Nusrat Gill while talking to The News stated that LWMC remained on high alert round-the-clock in the city. He said it was true that it wasn’t easy to tackle solid waste issue as public could throw garbage anytime, at any place but despite that, the squads worked efficiently and if there existed any issue in any part of city, including NA-120, it would be sorted immediately.

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