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November 28, 2017



Traffic issue outside halls, marquees unresolved

LAHORE: Clogged traffic on major city roads due to insufficient/improper parking outside hundreds of marriage halls and marquees across the provincial capital continued as Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has either become a toothless tiger or didn't has interest to resolve this grave issue.
Ironically LDA itself has published a list of 151 unapproved marriage halls on its website but no one in the government as well as the LDA's own director general asked this question from the town planning wing of the authority that how come these unapproved marriage halls have been constructed? Secondly, why LDA didn't initiate any inquiry into this issue as which 'Insiders' are involved and 'who' connived with the construction mafia.
Enforcing building bylaws and regulations is the job of LDA's Town Planning wing but its Chief Town Planner Khalid Mehmood when contacted said he will ask his director to call the scribe tomorrow morning. The scribe also tried to contact LDA DG on phone but he didn't attend the phone. A detailed SMS was also sent to LDA DG but he didn't reply until filing of this report.
As per LDA's record, 151 marriage halls are unapproved while only nine marriage halls and marquees were constructed in the provincial metropolis as per rules and regulations and were duly approved. Marriage halls and marquees falling in the cantonment area, private housing societies and city/town government jurisdictions are not included in these.
Some months back LDA launched a very aggressive crackdown on city marriage halls for violating building bylaws but suddenly the drive was rolled back and all the unapproved marriage halls and marquees were allowed to continue using main roads, side lanes and green belts as free parking resulting in traffic jams and inconvenience to the citizens.
As per building rules and regulations, the minimum land required for setting up a marquee was eight kanal whereas four kanals land was necessary for constructing a marriage

hall with two kanals of land to be left vacant for parking vehicles. None of the marriage halls/marquee had fulfilled these conditions.
A senior LDA official said the authority during that operation had sealed over 150 marriage halls in different city localities but owners of almost all marriage halls/marquees got de-sealing orders from local courts. However, this raised a big question mark on the performance of LDA's big legal wing, which comprised of several top lawyers.
Gulshan-e-Ravi, Johar Town, Ferozpur Road, Allama Iqbal Town, Sabzazar, College Road Township, Green Town, Faisal Town, Garden Town and Gulberg are some of the popular localities where unapproved marriage halls and marquees are operating openly. They didn't have any proper parking facilities due to which their customers have no other option except to park their vehicles on roads, resulting in severe traffic jams lasting for hours in peak hours time. The situation is worst on Saturdays and Sundays while on weekdays the problem also exists.
LDA's town planning wing is supposed to monitor construction of buildings as well as enforcement of building by-laws in LDA's jurisdiction but unfortunately no action was taken against any marriage hall during construction period. Town Planning wing of LDA check every ongoing construction, first before shuttering, then after that and finally after completion of a building.
LDA's plea that owners of the sealed halls/marquees didn't get building plans approved by LDA and owners had illegally set up these ventures after getting approved plans for constructing residences or office buildings at site can be proved wrong as Town Planning wing give completion certificate to every building.
When contacted, LDA director general said the authority had started a special drive against all illegal marriage halls and marquees in the city. He said recently some marquees were sealed and demolished by LDA's Town Planning wing.
He further said the authority has also directed its legal wing to aggressively pursue court cases related to marriage halls and marquees.