ISLAMABAD - At the time when incumbent government is claiming to retrieve hundreds of acres encroached land from land grabbers, the National Highway Authority is continuously ignoring massive enrichments done by the Giga Mall Rawalpindi on the Right of Way of National Highway N-5, commonly known as the Grant Trunk road. Giga Mall, located at GT road was launched by Al Ghurair Giga Pakistan (Pvt) Limited in 2016 and it is a multi-storey commercial cum residential project.  Besides having reports of concerned Patwari certifying encroachments done by Giga mall and clear directions from the RWO wing of NHA to remove the same, the formations responsible to take action within NHA are reluctant to get vacated the state land.  The NHA’s Patwari in its demarcation report categorically certified that the said shopping mall along with some other entities not only exceeds from its plotline but also constructed structures on ROW while the General Manager ROW also wrote a letter to Member Central Zone NHA to remove these encroachments on 22 November 2018.

“Pursuant to the approval of Chairman NHA, it has been decided that NHA ROW along N-5 encroached by Al-Ghurair Giga, Islamabad thorough illegal constructions on Right of Way has to be removed immediately”, the said letter available with this scribe reads, adding: “Therefore, the field formation is directed to take immediate actions for the removal of unauthorised structure on NHA’s ROW for smooth flow of traffic and for vacation of NHA land from illegal occupation.” The letter further asked the Member Central Zone to report the Chairman office after retrieving this land within a week but an action in this regard is still awaited while sources inside the NHA alleged that the field formations have an under table settlement with the management of this shopping mall and they are extending undue favours to each other.  In addition to operation against the said mega mall, an inquiry was also recommended by the competent authority against all deputy directors of maintenance, who remained posted at Rawalpindi when the said mall was encroaching the state land to fix the responsibility, but the same is not initiated yet due to the pressure of some influential people.

However, when contacted by The Nation, Chairman NHA Jawad Rafique Malik said that the matter is in his knowledge and he assured that an operation would be launched against Giga mall within days to get the state land back. “I have also assigned this inquiry to GM EALS Capitan (R) Mushtaq Ahmed to fix the responsibility and to ascertain the identity of the culprits behind the said encroachments”, he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that the committee headed by a GM level officer would not be able to investigate the matter properly as the member level officers are involved in extending undue favours to this shopping mall. On the other side, when contacted, the Director Legal Affairs Giga mall Amjad Asfar Gakhar while responding on the matter has stated that their company did nothing wrong as their building is within their plotline. One of the major achievements shown in the progress of 100-days plan of the State Minister for Communication Murad Saeed was a massive anti-encroachment drive to clear the ROW but such examples make a question mark on overall performance of his subordinate department and his claims of transparency and across the board operations.

The officers of NHA were of the view that the State Minister should constitute a high level committee to investigate the matter and find out who is behind the encroachments on site and who is providing a cover to these encroachments during the anti encroachment drive launched under the vision of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.