A portion of the greenbelt and pedestrian path along Khayaban-i-Suharwardy, stretching from the fire brigade station to Zero Point, has been encroached upon by government offices, causing inconvenience to pedestrians and posing risks to their safety. Notable offices affected include those of the Indus Water Treaty commissioner and the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (Nacta).
Concerns Regarding Pedestrian Path
Concerns have been raised about the closure of the footpaths, which forces pedestrians to walk on the main road, exposing them to potential dangers. The issue was brought to light by citizens, with one resident, Aslam Ali Khan, expressing his worries about the normalization of encroachments in the capital city.
During a visit to the area, we observed that a section of the footpath, particularly from the fire brigade building towards Zero Point, is entirely obstructed by iron fences. A similar situation was noted in front of the offices of the Indus Water commissioner and the Counter-Terrorism Authority. Additionally, the remaining footpath near Zero Point remains unattended, allowing bushes to grow, and lacks adequate lighting during nighttime.
Citizen Aslam Ali Khan remarked, “In developed countries, no one can dare to block movement of the public, but here even in the capital city, encroachment is a new normal. The closure of footpaths is a matter of concern.”
Calling for a more organized approach, a government official suggested that instead of conducting random drives, a comprehensive grand operation is required across the capital to address encroachments effectively.
When contacted, CDA’s Director General Enforcement Shah Jahan Khan expressed unawareness of the encroachments and stated that footpaths along roads fall under the purview of the road maintenance directorate, while the environment directorate is responsible for greenbelts. He committed to investigating the matter after receiving information from the relevant departments.
The issue of encroachments extends beyond footpaths to markets in the city, where verandas and walking tracks are allegedly occupied for commercial purposes. Some officials claim that these encroachments occur with the tacit approval of the CDA.
An official emphasized the need for a strategic and well-coordinated effort to curb encroachments, suggesting an audit of the performance of officials involved in enforcement activities. The official further called for grand operations across Islamabad to clear encroachments comprehensively and discourage the recurrence of such issues.
The enforcement wing chief defended his directorate’s performance and assured that more operations would be conducted in the coming days to address the encroachment problem.