Islamabad - The Capital Development Authority (CDA) on Saturday launched a huge operation to retrieve state land from the occupation of the encroachers and remove illegal marquees along the Kashmir Highway.

 Several establishments erected on the Right of Way of Kashmir Highway, majority of them marquees, were razed with heavy machinery, as high ups from the CDA, Islamabad district administration and local police remained present on occasion. Member (Estate) CDA, Khushhal Khan, supervised the operation while DC Islamabad, SSP Islamabad, Additional Deputy Commissioners, and Assistant Commissioners were also present. Personnel of Rangers assisted the local police to maintain law and order as the operation continued. The officials said that besides officials of the Enforcement Directorate, the high ups of Building Control Section, Emergency and Disaster Management unit and Rescue-1122 of the CDA/MCI were also present there. Around 350 officials actively participated in the operation, according to the CDA high ups.

The operation hit a Mcdonald’s outlet set up at a filling station along the Kashmir Highway in sector H-13. Later, the enforcement team reached ‘Venue One,’ ‘Galaxy’ and other marquees and demolished them. The operation continued to remove other encroachments along the Kashmir Highway in sector G-12. According to the officials, the team razed several massive structures including restaurants, showrooms, and hostels to the ground. The police arrested over two dozen persons for putting up resistance to the operation; however, no law and order situation arose on occasion. A wedding ceremony was taking place at ‘Occasions’ marquee when the CDA team reached the site to demolish it. However, the team gave appropriate time for the guests to wind up their ceremony and leave the venue. In another development, the police and guests of a wedding ceremony exchanged hot words as the CDA team insisted on guests leaving the venue immediately.

Several illegal marquees had occupied a long strip of land along the Kashmir Highway. According to the Islamabad zoning regulations, marquees cannot be established in the area alongside the highway. It is pertinent to mention here that the CDA after Supreme Court took cognizance of the illegality some months back, had decided to regularize and regulate marquees in the city. But according to the CDA officials, no set up such as marquees can be established in this zone of Islamabad.

The CDA officials said that the owners of the establishments were served notices, but they did not pay any heed to the warnings. Subsequently, the CDA planned the operation to remove encroachments along Kashmir Highway in sector G-12. The Authority had written letters to Islamabad Chief Commissioner and Inspector General of the Police for assistance during the operation scheduled to be conducted on Saturday morning. The civic body requested that the authorities assign police and Rangers at the site to counter any possible resistance and retaliation by the inhabitants and encroachers. Member (Estate) CDA, Khushhal Khan, had told the district administration and IGP Islamabad that CDA intends to retrieve acquired land on the Kashmir Highway in sector G-12 whereby various structures were raised in defiance to CDA Ordinance 1960. It is to mention here that owners of many of these illegal structures had also illegally got direct access to roads on the Kashmir Highway.

Minister for Information, Fawad Chaudhry, also visited the area and inspected the operation. Talking to media, he said that the operation would continue till all the encroachments are removed. He said the first phase of the Islamabad operation would be completed by 10th of Moharram. He informed that such drives would also be launched in other parts of the country to retrieve state land currently under illegal occupation of the land mafia.