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HindustanTimes Tue,23 Sep 2014

Encroachers have a free run as officials turn blind eye

Vinay Dhingra , Hindustan Times  Pathankot, April 10, 2013
First Published: 19:51 IST(10/4/2013) | Last Updated: 19:52 IST(10/4/2013)

With authorities turning a blind eye toward encroachments in the city, encroachers are having a free run at the cost of common man, who hardly finds any space to walk or drive on roads.

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It is a virtual free for all since most roads and streets in the city are occupied by roadside vendors who set shop anywhere of their own sweet will, leaving little space for two-, three- and four-wheeler drivers.

Local residents had thought that the problem posed by a large number of pushcarts on the roads here would be a thing of the past after a vast space on Gandhi Chowk was earmarked for shifting of 'rehris'. Authorities had at that time warned cart owners to not park their 'rehris' outside this market. However, much to the discomfort of people, a large number of handcarts have been stationed in the main bazaars and streets as Pathankot municipal corporation officials are paying little attention to the menace.

 Even shopkeepers, who earlier feared putting up their wares outside their business establishments due to fear of a particular municipal officer, have returned to their old habits of encroaching public spaces. At present, shopkeepers encroach on almost half the roads passing in front of their shops by putting on display their goods.

Pathankot improvement trust officials, who had earlier launched a drive against encroachments, seem to be helpless in taking action against erring shopkeepers.

Those preparing fast food items have also started setting up makeshift shops on APK road on land belonging to Pathankot improvement trust. Surprisingly, many of the kiosks on the road boast of illegal electricity connections.

A similar situation prevails on the roads coming under the jurisdiction of Pathankot MC, where encroachments by shopkeepers have shrunk the size of roads by half.

"Encroachers start quarrelling with us in case our vehicle at some point of time hits any of their goods or articles placed on the road," said a local resident Vipin .

He pointed out that the local residents had begun to dream of good road management and encroachment-free environment due to the efforts of a commissioner-level officer, currently under suspension in an alleged graft case, but anarchy seemed to prevail in the city at present.

Pathankot deputy commissioner, looking after the improvement trust and MC, was not available for comments since he is on leave.

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