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Land grabbers encroaching on natural streams

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HARIPUR:

An increasing number of reports about land mafia encroaching on natural streams with the alleged connivance of local administration in district Haripur have come to light.

It has been learnt that after encroaching the streams, the land grabbers fill them up and then proceed to sell or purchase these ‘plots’.

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Owners of land adjacent to these natural streams have apprised the courts about their concerns, with the most recent encroachment occurring in the Talokar area of Haripur.

Sources said that land grabbers are actively filling up the natural stream at Talokar with rubble and debris, which will eventually force the water to change its course and flow in a different direction. This leaves the stream’s bed dry, which is then ‘plotted’ by encroachers and sold illegally.

Encroachments like these have allegedly been taking place all over the district with the alleged connivance of local administration and land mafia continues to flout the laws without any accountability.

Local inhabitants told reporters that while the original length of the waterway in Talokar measured 100ft, the remaining area hardly measures 10-15ft after the land grabbers had dumped rubble into the stream.

Residents fear that changing the course of water may result in a catastrophe during heavy rains and might cause irreparable loss of life and property.

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When contacted, the authorities concerned belonging to the local administration declared that no one is allowed to carry out illegal activities and action will be taken as per law against violators.

They added that they have retrieved considerable state land from encroachers, who had taken illegal possession of the said land since many years.

Bridge in danger of collapse

A bridge built in the area of Mankarai in Haripur is in danger of collapsing due to huge cracks and poor construction of the structure.

The bridge, which was initially allocated over Rs20 million to be built, was constructed in four years at a ballooned cost of Rs180 million. It was inaugurated ahead of the 2018 general elections to allegedly mint votes from the local populace.

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However, as cracks began to appear within a few days after its inauguration, the bridge was closed down for all kinds of traffic, be it heavy or light.

The bridge was later reopened, but has been in danger of causing serious mishaps since the past 18 months.

The citizens have appealed to the provincial government as well as local administration to arrange a team of experts to analyse the bridge and take immediate steps to strengthen it before anything untoward occurs.

Former provincial minister Qazi Muhammad Asad has also asked the Anti-Corruption Department to investigate the alleged use of substandard construction material for building the bridge and bring the culprits to book.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 2nd, 2022.

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Punjab

Crow stuck in kite strings saved on LHC premises

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LAHORE:

Rescue officials on Thursday rescued a crow that was entangled in kite strings on the premises of the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The bird’s distress was noticed by litigants and lawyers and also by other crows, who were cawing loudly and circling the tree. Rescue 1122 was then called to rescue the bird. 

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Arriving promptly, the rescue team, despite its effort was unable to reach the trapped crow and another vehicle with a ladder bucket was summoned. 

Two rescue officials then managed to reach the crow. The officials gave the bird medical aid and water before untying and setting it free. The effort took around two hours during which the 1122 personnel, who were perceived to be a threat, also had to deal with other crows circling the tree. 

Speaking to The Express Tribune, rescue staff said that “all life is precious, whether it belongs to humans or animals”. They added that they were fulfilling what they believed was their obligation.

Unlike people, animals cannot call for help and thus, the rescuers said, they were happy to be able to help the bird.



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Relative of Gill’s driver remanded to police, wife sent to jail

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ISLAMABAD:

A district and sessions court in Islamabad granted on Thursday the Islamabad police’s request for physical remand of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill’s driver’s brother-in-law, while sending the driver’s wife to jail.

The court announced its judgment shortly after reserving it after hearing the accused’s counsel’s arguments.

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Following the court announcing its judgment, the counsel for the wife filed a post-arrest bail petition, on which the court later issued notices. Judicial Magistrate Salman Badar has summoned the police and prosecutor tomorrow, asking for the wife to kept in jail tonight.

Earlier this week, Gill was arrested on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions.

Read Court grants police two-day physical remand of Shahbaz Gill

Following Gill’s arrest, the ICT police raided his driver’s home and maintained that the driver’s family had protested in a government car.

During court proceedings today, the accused’s counsel Faisal Chaudhry said that the incident took place at 9pm last night and claimed there was “video evidence proving that the police entered [the driver’s house] without a warrant”.

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The lawyer also claimed that the police had vandalized the accused’s home and also beaten them.

“We were to file a petition for habeas corpus today but the police released the news to the media,” said the advocate as he argued that “considering the role the woman played in the case posits her to be discharged” since “all but one provision in the suit are bailable offenses”.

During the proceedings, the accused’s 10-month old daughter began crying and was prevented from meeting her mother upon which Civil Judge Salman Badr ordered the girl to be brought to her in the courtroom.

When the judge asked the woman if she wanted to say something, she stated that “the police broke the door and entered [the house], we only came to know [of the incident] when the police had reached our bedroom. Our privacy was not even considered”.

“More than 20 police officers entered the bedroom and tortured us,” added Nauman.

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“The police entered without a warrant and violated the sanctity of the home,” argued the lawyer.

Advocate Chaudhry was snubbed by the judge for “mentioning Shahbaz Gill’s arrest in another case” and directed to “restrict the arguments to the present case”.

Raid on Gill’s driver’s house ‘legal’

Earlier today the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police stated that the raid conducted on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Shahbaz Gill’s driver’s house was ‘legal’.

In a tweet, the Islamabad police stated that they were collecting “all evidence” related to the case.

“Wherever legal action is required, the police will do its job,” they said, adding that the scope of this particular case could be extended to other provinces beyond Islamabad.

According to the police, legal action will be taken against those who were found to be “concealing evidence or erasing evidence”.

Advising people to not pay attention to fake news, they claimed that action will also be taken against those spreading “false news and incitement” among the people.

“Islamabad Capital Police will ensure the enforcement of the law,” it maintained.

Gill’s arrest

The federal government confirmed on Tuesday that it had arrested PTI leader Shahbaz Gill for sedition and inciting the public against state institutions.

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Addressing a press conference following the arrest, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah along with Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said that Gill was arrested by the Islamabad Police after lodging an FIR.

He said a “conspiratorial role” of a private TV channel has also come to the fore, adding that Shahbaz Gill, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry and the channel’s administration played the role on the instruction of Imran Khan.

The minister furthered that negative propaganda was spread against the martyrs of the army helicopter crash on social media.

Read more Imran sees conspiracy to pit PTI against army

“An attempt was made to incite mutiny and sedition in the Pakistan Army ranks and files. This whole conspiracy is being investigated and the conspiratorial characters are being determined,” he added.

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PTI distances itself

Despite earlier chagrin over the “abduction” of Gill, the PTI appeared to be distancing itself from Shahbaz Gill’s remarks made on the private TV channel.

Talking to Javed Chaudhry on Express News, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said on Wednesday that Gill’s narrative was “not the party’s stance” and added that “every person has their own opinion”.

He, however, still insisted that “Shahbaz Gill should be forgiven after withdrawing his statement”.



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Crackdown on smoke-emitting units expedited

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RAWALPINDI:

The Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA) has expedited a crackdown on smoke-emitting brick kilns, stone crushing units, industrial units and vehicles to prevent smog in the forthcoming winter.

Officials said that the agency has so far sealed a total of 66 brick kilns, 11 stone crushing units and five smoke-emitting industrial units besides seizing 35 obnoxious fume-emitting vehicles.

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The agency has so far registered cases against 79 brick kilns and 10 industrial units for emitting smoke.

A total of Rs900,000 in fines was imposed on owners of smoke-emitting brick kilns, Rs150,000 on smoke-emitting industries, Rs100,000 on stone-crushing units and Rs150,000 on smoke-emitting vehicles.

Punjab Ministry of Environment Secretary Dr Naeem Rauf said that smog is likely to exacerbate in winter and the ongoing drive aimed to take prevent pollution. “We will seal all units, brick kilns and vehicles emitting obnoxious smoke before the onset of winter. The district administration will also take strict action against those who burn crops and garbage,” he said adding that the burning of crop residue, waste and garbage has already been banned.

The official said that a circular has been issued to deputy directors of all 36 districts of Punjab to take strict action against brick kilns using old technology. He said that no brick kiln that did not install the environmental-friendly zigzag technology will not be allowed to operate. “Raiding teams have also been formed for checking them. Only zigzag technology kilns are allowed to manufacture bricks,” he said.

According to the EPA, 1,225 brick kilns have been checked so far and of them, 66 were sealed while cases had been registered against 79 for not having zigzag technology.

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Officials said that so far eleven stone crushing units have been shut down across the Rawalpindi division. They said that the crackdown on polluting units will continue daily.

The Regional Transport Authority secretary has also issued notices to owners to stop plying smoke-emitting vehicles.

The government has also ordered that all kilns be converted to ‘zigzag’ technology, a design change that makes more efficient use of fuel.

An internal zigzag structure in kilns, combined with the use of an air blower, can cut the consumption of coal, slash emissions substantially and improve the quality of bricks produced, officials said.

Traditional kiln owners, however, were demanding a shutdown of no more than a month and insisting on government help to make the design change.

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Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2022.



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