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Unprecedented anti-encroachment drive going on in Abbottabad

ABBOTTABAD: All the line departments have been busy in the anti-encroachment operation in the city for the last six weeks, clearing the ravines and drains encroached for years, which caused flash floods during monsoon and caused huge financial losses to residents.

“As many as 385 portions of houses, 197 retaining walls, 45 shops, 22 culverts have been removed during the operation so far,” said Deputy Commissioner Nadeem Nasir.

The city of Abbottabad, once known for beauty, is now facing with serious drainage and sanitation problems, especially in the rainy season, thanks to the poor urban planning, encroachments, and unrestrained influx of migrations across the country. During the current rainy season, all main roads of the town remained heavily flooded with the rain waters, causing huge traffic jams which added to the woes of common citizens, especially pedestrians. A number of cars were damaged while the ground floors of a number of colonies turned into swimming pools. Anti-encroachment drive in the city, first of its kind, headed by the district administration continues in the city after the recent devastating rain.

During the operation in the last three weeks, several ravines were cleared by removing encroachments on both sides. The nullahs had not been cleaned for decades. Ironically, most of the areas were encroached not only by individuals but some departments too were occupying the area with the alleged connivance of the revenue department. The deputy commissioner vowed to continue the operation in Cantonment as well Abbottabad City till all encroachments were removed. When contacted, he confirmed the removal of encroachments, adding 22 illegally constructed pedestrian bridges were dismantled as well. Cantonment Board Abbottabad Chief Executive Officer Ammara Ammar told this correspondent that the anti-encroachment drive was in full swing in the Cantonment areas.

She said the Jhangi Syedan area had totally been cleared during the operation and teams had reached Street No. 15 & 16 in Bilal Town. The official said after clearing the Bilal Town, the teams will move towards the PMA Bypass Drain.

Abbottabad was an important military cantonment in the British area and the status has remained even after independence. According to the old maps of Abbottabad, the city had three main drainage lines which included Jab Canal, Mirpur-Jab Canal and the Main City-Jab Canal besides other ravines in the old city.

Most part of the Jab Canals has been encroached and the width reduced.

Jab in the city has also been encroached and shops/plazas have been constructed there. Entire link road starting from Sarban Hotel to District Headquarters Hospital faces an ugly situation during a heavy downpour as the main nullah has encroached.

The small drains on both sides of the Mansehra Road have no capacity to carry rainwater which blocks the road during the rainy season.

The only Small Industrial Estate of the city gives the look of a swimming pool during a downpour as Jab Nullah water spreads to the entire industrial estate, thanks to the poor planning of the industry department. The town has become congested after the unplanned construction on Shimla and Sarban hills beside expansion of Cantonment Board to the rural area of Mirpur and Kakul.

These drainage canals used to have fresh and clean water flowing most of the time, which have been polluted now by the sewerage lines of the local population.

The elders of the area still remember those golden times when their little town would remain clean and tidy just like a small valley surrounded from all sides with lush green hillocks and with foliage abound.

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