LAHORE - The mushroom growth of sugarcane juice vendors at the Punjab University’s greenbelts along the Canal Road not only mars the beauty of the meticulously maintained greenbelts but also poses a security threat to university inmates as well as the commuters.
The sugarcane juice vendors not only add to the serious environmental, health and traffic hazards as scores of motorists park their vehicles on the fast moving Canal Road for enjoying sugarcane drinks while some vendors have set up their stalls beside bus stops to attract more people which adds to traffic accidents.
The juice stalls look like snipers in the dark of the night and may become a source of security breach, said Mazhar Iqbal, a businessman, while talking to APP here Sunday.
These sugarcane vendors are located at the passages linking major PU hostels which provides them an opportunity to sell their unhygienic product to hostel inmates. Some vendors have extended their businesses to other eateries like ‘Fruit Chat’ and ‘Dhai Bhallay’ without maintaining any hygienic standards.
A vendor outside the Hostel No 2 greenbelt, Rafiq, while talking to APP said that the sugarcane juice stall was started by his late father, Muhammad Bashir, in 1965 and he used to pay a fee to the PU management. He said the stalls helped PU manage law and order as well.
A minor at another juice stall linking Girls Hostel No 10 on the canal road said that his father, Noman Ijaz, was on duty in PU and he owned the stall.
A PU spokesperson said the university had nothing to do with the sugarcane vendors as the greenbelts were a concern of PHA and the City District Government
Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) official Ameer Hussain told APP that they could not evict the unlawful vendors from the PHA managed greenbelts due to the interference of activists of a PU student union, adding that the activists threaten the PHA staff with dire consequences in case they asked the sugarcane juice vendors to withdraw their unlawful occupation of government land.
Director PHA Niaz Muhammad also alleged that IJT activists were a hurdle to eradicate unauthorised stalls on the greenbelts.
PU IJT Nazim Abdul Muqeet rejected the allegations, saying that the IJT believed in preserving and protecting the beauty of the PU, adding that they had evicted unauthorised vendors from the greenbelts along the canal road in February-March 2013.
He said that vendors resurfaced through manoeuvring during the tenure of the caretaker set-up as most of the sugarcane juice vendors belong to the NA-102 constituency, adding that the vendors bribed PHA and CDGL staff for setting up sugarcane stalls.
He said that IJT would never intervene if the PHA and CDGL staff fulfilled their official duties of ridding the greenbelts of illegal occupants.
A Muslim Town police station official told APP that they would initiate action if ordered by authorities.
Ms Zainab, a PU hostelite and MFA Part II Fine Arts student, said the sugarcane stalls were a smudge in the face of beautiful Lahore and authorities concerned should adopt measures to restore the beauty of the greenbelts by evicting the occupants.