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Damaged parks, greenbelts yet to be repaired in Rawalpindi

Damaged parks, greenbelts yet to be repaired in Rawalpindi

RAWALPINDI: The Punjab government has failed to improve the condition of three parks damaged during the construction of the metro bus track in the garrison city.

The women park near Liaquat Bagh and the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) offices was almost destroyed as it was handed over to one of the contractors for storing their machinery.

The children’s park at Committee Chowk was also damaged by the same contractor by parking the machinery there. Besides, the front portion and the parking area of Nawaz Sharif Park were also damaged.

When the citizens criticised the government for the damages to the parks and greenbelts, Commissioner Zahid Saeed, who was the project director, promised that the Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) would improve the condition of the parks.

However, despite the launch of the bus service, no steps have been taken to repair the damaged parks. Instead, the PHA is still busy in developing flower beds in the middle of Murree Road.

In early 1980, the then mayor Rawalpindi, Ghulam Hussain, developed a park on four kanals adjacent to the Liaquat Bagh. The park attracted a large number of citizens due to its beautifully-carved lawns and fountains.

Former military dictator Ziaul Haq and Nawaz Sharif, who was then the chief minister of Punjab, used to host Iftar dinners for the notables of the city in the park.

However, the devastating floods in Leh Nullah in 2001 destroyed the park. Later, the then City District Government led by Raja Tariq Kiyyani developed a portion of the park for women and children while the remaining area remained unutilised.

In 2010, the vacant portion of the park was converted into a model Sunday bazaar. However, in 2014, the local administration merged the Sunday bazaar with the Committee Chowk bazaar and handed over the vacant land to the Rawalpindi Municipal Waste Company for parking dumpers and other machinery. Now, the PHA seems unwilling to develop the park as promised by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.

A senior official of the PHA told Dawn that they had not received any directions to develop the park as the land was being used for dumping solid waste and construction materials.

He said the PHA was working to construct sports stadiums in different schools and colleges for which funds had been arranged by former MNA Hanif Abbasi.

When contacted, PTI leader and former district nazim Raja Tariq Kiani said the local administration and the PHA had to improve the condition of the parks as they got one per cent of the Rs44.8 billion allocated for the metro bus project for the development of greenbelts and improvement of parks.

Former PML-N MNA Malik Shakeel Awan admitted that it was the duty of the PHA to improve the condition of the parks. He said he would take up the matter with Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif soon.

Commissioner Rawalpindi Zahid Saeed could not be contacted for comments.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2015

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