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Capital's cattle market a fiasco as Eid draws nearer

Capital's cattle market a fiasco as Eid draws nearer

ISLAMABAD: With Eidul Azha just four days away, buyers and sellers of sacrificial animals faced chaos on Monday as local authorities tried to herd them to a cattle market selected by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for them.

Matters were made worse when even the buyers arriving at the CDA-designated market in Sector I-12 from Islamabad and Rawalpindi were told by bystanders that the “real mandi” was thriving at the Sector I-11 – the market in the previous years.

Though the CDA declared the site a closed area this year, buyers and sellers still preferred it being closer and easier to reach and cut deals.

A half-hearted attempt by the CDA to clear the “illegal market” ended in arousing resentment and creating massive traffic jams in the area.

“It is very frustrating. Why the CDA had to shift the mandi and award a contract for a new, inconvenient site? ” fumed buyer Mohammad Iqbal from Rawalpindi, who directed from I-12 to I-11 site, a vast area since the CDA bulldozed the slum dwellings there in July.

“Contracts always create problem. Indeed, as a municipal body, the CDA should provide the annual facility free of any cost to the public,” he said, sweating in the traffic jam.

Cattle sellers came out protesting as the CDA launched a clearing operation, pushing back the workers of the CDA enforcement wing and removing the barricades erected on the Faqir Aipee Road serving their “illegal” market.

In fact, cattle sellers had been streaming into the forbidden I-11 site for quite a few days, despite the containers and barricades put around it to block their way.

A visit to the illegal mandi on Monday showed it thriving and well served by vendors with fodder and drinking water for the animals.

Cattle seller Allahwasya from Bhakkar told Dawn that he made it to the “illegal mandi” with his 50 animals by paying bribes to the police manning the various pickets.

“Now the authorities want to push us out and move elsewhere. How can we when Eid is just four days away and the selling season is on?” Others shared his sentiment.

On Friday, the Islamabad High Court, rejected their petition challenging the relocation of the annual market to I-12 by CDA on a contract worth Rs10 million. Yet, the CDA failed to carry out its threat to clear them out on Monday.

“Honestly speaking, we are not in a position to provide a cover to the CDA to do that. After all forcibly removing animals and their owners is no joke,” an Islamabad administration official said. CDA’s 250-men strong enforcement wing should have acted before the problem grew to that size, he said.

Deputy Commissioner Islamabad retierd Captain Mushtaq Ahmed agreed with that comment. “Action should have been taken at the early stage. There are over 15,000 animals now and it is difficult for us to start an operation,” he told Dawn.

“However, we are trying to resolve the problem amicably,” he said.

CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid said the civic body had alerted the city administration and police to the problem in time. “Talks are underway with them to remove the illegal mandi,” he said.

“We provide municipal services and can’t run a mandi,” he said in response to the public suggestion that the CDA manage the annual market rather contracting it out to private firms.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2015

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