RAWALPINDI: The fate of a park near Liaquat Bagh in Rawalpindi seems uncertain after a waste management company started building permanent structures within its premises, The Express Tribune has learnt.
The Women’s Park had been established in 2005 at a cost of Rs4.5 million along Nullah Leh and adjacent to offices of the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) and opposite the Rawalpindi Press Club. The park was meant exclusively for women and children of the city spread on an area of about two acres.
However, in January 2014, the park was destroyed when it was used as a storage site to park construction material and support equipment for building a nearby track for the Metro Bus.
Later, the RDA allowed the Rawalpindi Waste Management Company (RWMC) to set up a temporary waste material transfer station in the park where small vans would bring garbage from across the city before transferring them on to larger trucks destined for a landfill located at a site outside the city.
Locals, representatives of opposition parties and members of the club had complained to the RDA for converting a park into a waste transfer station and over the intense stench from the garbage.
Muhammad Iqbal Malik, a senior joint secretary of the National Press Club who also looks after affairs of the Rawalpindi Press Club, said that they had raised the issue of having a waste transfer station at their doorstep.
Following their complaints, Malik said that the authorities concerned altered the route for the garbage vans commuting to and from the station, taking the unpaved road that runs parallel to the Nullah Leh. Another path leads from the park, behind Liaquat Gymnasium and empties onto Murree Road.
However, recent constructions at the site of the park seem to negate earlier reports which hinted that the transfer station would be shifted to another location and the park would be restored.
An official of Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) told The Express Tribune that the park had been handed to RDA after work on the Metro Bus project began. The authority was due to hand the park back to the PHA after the project was completed. But this did not happen.
The PHA earlier this year wrote a letter to the RDA asking it to hand the park over, but it received no response from the authority.
The official said that the PHA had also written to the provincial authorities, seeking Rs5 million to restore the park. But even the provincial government did not offer them a response.
Asked for his comments, RDA spokesperson Hafiz Muhammad Irfan said that the authority handed over the park land to the concerned authorities soon after the completion of metro bus track. About the transfer station, he said that RDA had not given the land to the private company collecting the waste material.
RDA gave land to RWMC
RWMC Managing Director Irfan Qureshi confirmed to The Express Tribune that the company had started constructing a proper transfer station only after the district government provided the company with the land to collect and transfer waste.
He added that their agreement with Al-Barak waste disposal company required the RWMC to have a transfer station located within the city. This is why, he said, the company had to set up the station despite having a station located on the banks of the Soan River, near the Lahore High Court-Rawalpindi Registry building.
Several efforts were made to contact District Coordination Officer Talat Mahmood Gondal, but he was not available for comments.
Courtesy : Express Tribune