RE The word dichotomy fits in its perfect connotation to the current condition of Samanabad Town. Although other eight towns of the City also lack basic facilities, the Samanabad Town can truly be called their king. Poor sanitation, leaking sewers, shortage of clean drinking water, pathetic condition of parks and playgrounds, and non-existence of health facilities are some of its hallmarks.
Put on a little bit of topping viz-a-viz the lethargic attitude of authorities concerned and the town would easily rank among the worst -- anywhere.
Divided into fourteen union councils, i.e., UC 84, UC 88-89, UC 92, UC 100, UC 102-109 and UC 115, the town encompasses the areas of Mozang Chungi, Ichhra, Sabzazaar, Gulshane Ravi, Babu Sabu, Samanabad, Muslim Town, Allama Iqbal Town and Wahdat Colony.
TheNation recently conducted a survey to find out how difficult it has become for the citizens of Samanabad Town to pull along under the conditions thrusted upon them by the negligent Town authorities. Here is what we found.
Allama Iqbal Town Scheme, which has two villages (Badrpura and Bhekhewal), 26 blocks and some 700 houses do not have good water supply, has no proper sewerage or sanitation. The residents have been forced to live a substandard life. There is no government hospital or any well-organized dispensary. However, some private clinics are minting money. The nearest public sector hospital is Jinnah Hospital, which is not easily accessible to everyone, especially during night emergencies.
The closest two settlements -- Iqbal Town and Johar Town are polls apart from each other because there is no direct road link between them. That is why the residents of both these towns have been demanding since ages to lay down a road, bisecting the Punjab Universitys New Campus, for an easy route.
Though there have been efforts to upgrade the areas sanitation, one can still see marks of negligence here and there left by the CDGL, WASA and SWM. The Vegetable/Fruit Market in its Kamran Block is nothing more than a 'factory of trash heaps, annoying the customers both rich and poor alike.
The condition of situation in Wahdat Colony, a specified place for Sunday Bazaars, is not much different. Babar Ali, a shopkeeper at the Veggie Mart put it this way: The odour of hypocrisy is hung around everywhere. Malik Abid, a former councilor, said the sitting public representatives have nothing to do with the publics problems. He also demanded a quick-fix solution for the traffic jam resulting from students visiting the Punjab Universitys examination centres in the area.
The shallow areas of the town, including the Government Science College and adjacent zones, become ponds during the rainy season. This results in the unstoppable growth of various germs. Germs, as everybody knows, cause spread of different fatal diseases. Judging from the scarce number of schools and colleges in Samanabad Town, one can easily reach the conclusion: the government is deliberately stripping the Town of education and educated subjects.
The land mafia is another problem, and the people rest the whole blame with the LDA, who had unlawfully allotted a number of plots, allocated for public welfare, to the influential. For example, a piece of land in Karim Block, allocated for a cinema, was later allotted to an influential person. Another plot, measuring 24 kanals, in Sikandar Block was meant for womens development activities. The LDA officers have been accused of depriving the already deprived womenfolk by allotting this plot to yet another rich man of the area.
During the survey, this scribe found that as many as five service stations and two workshops were operating in residential areas of Allama Iqbal Town. The act violates the CDG and LDA bylaws. Residents we spoke to complained that the WASA was charging a handsome sum of money, through an addition in the utility bills, on the name of sanitation, but was rendering very poor service.
Mian Javed, the former Town Nazim, told TheNation that a major part of the Town (about 88 per cent) was under the LDAs control, but major development works were being carried out by the Town administration. That is a big problem in itself, Javed said.
Perhaps the main issue of the Town is the uncovered drain running up to Gulshane Ravi. Starting (at least) from the Shama Stop on the Ferozpur Road, it causes a massive nuisance for the people, especially those residing on its banks. The drain is not only posing a health threat, but is also adversely affecting the businesses situated there.
The poor sewerage system in Gulgasht Colony (UC 84) needs to be solved on priority basis. The residents of UC 90 (Babu Sabu Exchange) are living without electricity, the survey further found.
Talking to TheNation, former nazim Javed revealed some 41 water-filtration plants had been approved by the Federal government during his time for UCs 84, 87, 102, 103, and 105. The current government has made no advancement regarding the installation of these plants, he said.
During friendly discussion with Mian Salim Malik, the general secretary of Rasool Park Welfare Society (Samanabad), it emerged that people feel a severe shortage of Wasa-sullied water. Astonishingly, there is no Wasa tube-well in the area. We repeatedly contacted Mian Nauman (MPA) to resolve the issue, he said he had no funds, Salim said. A water-filtration plant, installed in Ali Park area, is sitting idle, it also emerged.
Mehr Shabir, an ex-naib nazim of Paki Thati, pointed to the problem of missing sweepers. There is no proper system of cleanliness as most of sweepers remain absent. Muhammad Yasin and Saqib Amin, the residents of Ichhra, have similar complaints of cleanliness. They, however, applauded a recent government move against the street- and road-mafia in the Ichhra Bazaar.
A Wasa officer of Gulshan Ravi, seeking anonymity, criticized the so-called role of different public welfare institutions, saying without proper coordination among these institutions, the city administration cannot manage the development works. Drivers plying their vans on the Wahdat Road complained of ditches and depressions on the road.
Samanabad Town TMO Imtiaz Awan, while talking to TheNation, claimed: The administration is working hard to resolve public issues. We have been focusing on encroachment demolition campaign, especifically in Ichhra Bazaar, Mozang, Rehmanpura, and Wahdat Road areas. He said sites for establishing sports centres and playgrounds had already been identified near Multan Chungi, Gulshan Park, Scheme Morr, Masjid Akse Jamil, Dungi Ground and New Khan Adda (Band Road).
The Town administration, he said, has played a key role in retrieving government property in Muslim Town and Marble Market on the Ferozepur Road.
The LDA was executing development work on Gulshane Ravi Bridge, he added. Lahore Development Authority Director General was not available to state his version on the LDA-managed schemes.
MNA Ayyaz Sadiq to;d TheNation that different projects worth Rs 6.6 million have been initiated in UCs 93, 101, 105 and 106. A 6-kanal piece of land has been acquired in Sodiwal area, on the Multan Road, for a 40-bed hospital costing Rs 100 million, Sadiq revealed.
JAVAID IQBAL also contributed