Iconic hotel collapse spurs KP to action

PESHAWAR:

Following the terrible collapse of an iconic hotel in the scenic Swat Valley and several structures built on the riverbanks during the 2022 floods, the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) appears to have come together.

KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has ordered a complete ban on all construction on riverbanks, irrigation canals and other waterways in the province, as well as launching an effective crackdown on existing encroachments .

The Chief Minister has made it clear that no political pressure or other interference will be accepted in this regard.

Chairing a meeting on the anti-encroachment campaign in the province on Wednesday, the Chief Minister ordered Section 144 against the construction of new homes, hotels and all other commercial and non-commercial infrastructure along the waterways, including the Swat River, the Panjkora River, the Kunhar River and the canals of the province-wide irrigation department.

He clarified that there should be no leniency regarding encroachments, adding that all stakeholders should fulfill their responsibilities in this regard and that in the future, no ministry will issue CAs for the construction or establishment of new infrastructure near waterways.

The Chief Minister said illegal encroachments had a negative impact on the economy and loss of valuable lives and property during the 2010 floods and recent floods. Therefore, there is no room for negligence or delay in taking action against these encroachments.

The chief minister also ordered the irrigation department to start work to identify and delineate floodplains in the province and said people’s ignorance on the matter does not rule out government agencies and departments. of their duties and responsibilities.

Relevant rules and regulations must be implemented in letter and spirit to stop illegal encroachments, the Chief Minister remarked and said that no construction whether by private or government sector will be allowed in the future.

He also led the short, medium and long term planning to eliminate encroachments completely, especially along the rivers in Hazara and Malakand division.

On this occasion, the Prime Minister also ordered the acceleration of the markup work for the identification of watercourses with high floods and the involvement of the actors and experts concerned in order to have a complete and in-depth study for this effect.

He stressed the need to construct small dams to reduce the risk of flood damage as part of long-term planning and requested relevant authorities to submit appropriate proposals in this regard.

During the anti-encroachment campaign action briefing, it was revealed that so far 100 encroachments along the Swat River have been removed in five different operations in Kalam, Madyan , Bahrain, Fiza Ghat and Mingora.

In addition, the reconstructed hotels and perimeter walls in the demarcated floodplain of Kalam Bazar were also demolished.

The meeting was informed that data on new, old and reconstructed encroachment sites are regularly collected by the irrigation department and submitted to the local administration.

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