CHINIOT - Encroachments are continuously irking the motorists and pedestrians on the roads, bazaars and markets of historic city of Chiniot which is famous for its wooden furniture.

Every year, tens of thousands of tourists visit the city’s historic places, purchase furniture and enjoy trips at the bank of River Chenab.

However, the encroachments in the streets and bazaars often cause traffic jams. The city has narrow streets and bazaars which were developed in the pre-partition era.

These include Pir Bhutta Bazaar, Muslim Bazaar, Rail Bazaar, Nogaza Road, Katchery Bazaar and Tarkhana Bazaar. Encroachments are also unchecked on the roads leading to historical places like Umar Hayat Mahal, Badshahi Mosque, Shah Burhan Tomb, Pir Ismaeel Tomb and Shish Mahal causing frequent traffic jams of hours.

Four boys and two girls’ schools of at least 8,000 students are also situated in the heart of these bazaars.

Traffic also remains jammed during the arrival and departure times of the students. The encroachers are so powerful that whenever the TMA took an action against encroachments, they attack officials, go on strike and exert political pressure on them.

A serious effort was made last year by then TMO Azmat Qadeer Goraya in which hundreds of temporary and concrete encroachments were eliminated but he has to pay the price by being transfer orderred to hundreds miles away. Two months ago, another anti-encroachment drive started curtailing the encroachments to a considerable limit but the staff was threatened and attacked again.

When the TMA staff headed by Tehsil Officer Regulation Abdul Hayy was removing encroachments at Muslim Bazaar, an encroachers’ leader, Faisal alias Pappu, attacked and tortured them with iron rod.

Although the city police registered a case but he was yet to be arrested. Instead he, along with some other encroachers, was reportedly threatening the TMA staff of dire consequences. The TMO has also been under political pressure to discontinue the campaign immediately or suffer the fate of his predecessor TMO.

The tehsil officer said that anti-encroachment drive would continue but they have limited resources and staff. “We are working with two sanitation branch employees, six from union councils and a tractor trolley of sanitation branch whenever it is free,” he said.

He also confirmed receiving threats from encroachers but pledged that the campaign would continue. TMO Rana Ghulam Dastagir also said the campaign would continue come what may.

The local people including have demanded early removal of these encroachments.