Encroachment is the wrongful acquisition of land. In Pakistan, encroachment is ubiquitous and large-scale shanties and makeshift houses are the most prominent example of this. But this is done on a much larger scale as people take swathes of public property land or someone else’s property and develop their own property there. In recent years, an extensive anti encroachment drive in Pakistan has been taking place with development authorities ridding public and personal property of illegal developments. Let’s take a look at the steady progress that has been made so far.
Anti-encroachment Drive In Pakistan
During recent years, Pakistan’s major cities have seen a rapid increase in anti-encroachment activities. The most prominent example of this is the removement of encroachments from Karachi’s Empress Market which returned a large area back to the government.
These drives are especially rampant under the incumbent government. However, before understanding these drives in detail, it is better to understand the law governing these drives.
Anti-encroachment Law In Pakistan
In Pakistan, the Prevention and Removal of Encroachments Model Bye-Laws, 2018, governs how illegal encroachments are removed from the area. For this reason, the aforementioned doctrine’s Clauses 3 and 4 are of special importance.
Clause 3. Prohibition of Encroachments: No person shall make an encroachment, movable or immovable on open space or public place or public property or public road or public street or public way or right of way or market or public park or graveyard or drain within the jurisdiction of [Name of Local Government].
Clause 4. Role of the Chairman Union Council: (1) The Chairman Union Council shall report to the Municipal/District Officer (Regulation) of the Local Government in respect of encroachments noticed by him, in his Union Council. (2) The Chairman, Vice Chairman and other members of Union Council shall mobilize the community in their local area, for prevention and removal of encroachments. (3) The members and the Secretary of Union Council shall remain vigilant to prevent encroachment in their wards.
Under these laws, all people are prohibited to unlawfully acquire land by law. The union council representatives are required to report this illegal activity to the required municipal authority.
After this, under Section 6, the local government can take the following actions:
Clause 6. Action against encroacher or wrongful occupier: (1) The Local Government may, after such notice (Forms – I & II) as may be considered reasonable, remove the encroachment with such force as may be necessary. 8 (2) A person who trespasses into or is in wrongful occupation of a building or property which is vested in or is managed, maintained or controlled by the Local Government may, in addition to any other penalty to which he may be liable under the Act or any other law for the time being in force, after reasonable notice (Form- II) by the Local Government, be ejected from such building or property by the Local Government with such force as may be necessary.
The aforementioned Forms I & II are pre-established forms on which the complaint against the encroacher is to be lodged. It is worth mentioning here that the official complaint is to be lodged on these official documents for processing.
In case of a wrongful allegation of encroachment, the alleged person is given a period of 7 days to file a complaint with the Chief Officer of the development or municipal authority. The relevant department then scrutinizes the documents and the matter is resolved, or is referred to a court in case of any stalemate.
Now, under the provisions of this law, numerous anti-encroachment drives have been launched specifically in Pakistan’s major cities such as Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Rawalpindi, and even in northern areas of Pakistan which are considered to be tourist hotspots of the country.
Anti-encroachment Campaigns in Pakistan
These are the cities which have seen rapid increase in anti-encroachment drives.
Anti-encroachment Drive In Lahore
In Lahore, the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) is working round the clock to recover private and public land.
Recently, the Lahore Metropolitan Regulation Wing launched a grand operation on Hall Road and Laxmi Chowk. Along these areas, various people had set up illegal shops, built up shanties, and had food and fruit carts lined up which made it difficult to manage traffic.
Earlier, 195 illegal shops were removed in the city’s Township area alone. Similar demolitions have also taken place in Johar Town, Raiwind Road, Mohlanwal Scheme, Thokar Niaz Baig, and their adjacent areas.
Anti-Encroachment Drive In Karachi
In a new development, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) has launched its anti-encroachment drive in areas surrounding Jamshed Road and MA Jinnah Road in Karachi’s eastern district. The Sindh High Court is also properly monitoring to ensure all the work is completed timely and all illegal constructions are effectively removed.
In Karachi, previous governments had allocated amenity plots to people who couldn’t buy their own houses, however, most of these had been used for commercial purposes as well, for which the president has now directed the local authorities to take all necessary measures to counter the problem. This is specific to areas including Nasla Tower, Aladin Park, and Gujjar Nullah.
Anti-encroachment Drive In Islamabad
Although Islamabad is the country’s capital, it too is affected by illegal construction activities. In most cases, illegal constructions have been carried out by refugees and internally-displaced persons who have moved to Islamabad on a temporary basis. However, since these people have nowhere else to live, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has instructed the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to not demolish the makeshift houses anymore.
Apart from this, land mafias and other land grabbers have also illegally taken control of swathes of land under their control. Margalla Hills, which is a tourist haven and the epicenter of all new real and modern real estate developments, has seen persistent illegal developments. As a result of this, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has to weed out these structures, almost on a regular basis. Recently, the Federal Government Employees Housing Authority (FGEHA) conducted an operation in G-14 where more than 23 houses had been illegally built.
Apart from the major cities, district development offices are also working round the clock to ensure the removal of encroachments from different districts of the country. More importantly, what essentially comes as a pleasant surprise is the smoothing of real estate activities in the Kaghan valley, in Pakistan’s northern areas. Here, the government has removed a number of illegally constructed hotels and motels which were creating administrative issues, such as traffic management etc. Moreover, a report by Pakistan Railways has uncovered more than 400 acres of public land, from across the country.
Encroached land is a public offense. The fruit carts you see on the streets, vegetable and fruit bazaars, housing societies, and even individual land grabbers are offenders under the aforementioned law.
Encroachment, when it happens on private residential or commercial land, rids one of ownership, while on public property this phenomenon creates a multitude of administrative issues, for instance traffic congestion, impediments in development activities, and tax evasion. In most metropolises like Karachi, you’ll see that there has been a marked decrease in civic space as open land which could have been utilized for recreational avenues such as parks and other green spaces, has makeshift overpopulated dwellings.
It is for these reasons that it is essential to remove all illegal encroachments, and to ensure a sustainable regime for doing so.
If you or anyone you know is a victim of and grabbing or encroachment, you can lodge a complaint at the Pakistan Citizen Portal. For any queries regarding this, you can contact us by writing to us at email@example.com. Also, keep checking Pakistan’s largest property blog, Zameen Blog, for the latest news on Pakistan’s property.