The advent of March brings a lot of new and pleasant things. The bloom of spring and the energizing activities make us feel as if life is starting anew. The memory of the cold winter fades away as we see vivid colors all around. The extravaganza of colors around us is also due to aggressive outdoor Jashan-e-Baharan campaigns by brands like Pepsi, Coca-Cola, and others. Iqbal Garden outdoor campaign is one such campaign, and people noticed it.
I was itching to write about Iqbal Garden, the different angles of its campaign but could not lift my pen, writer’s block as they call it. After hearing the news that Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has initiated a criminal proceeding against Iqbal Garden I could not help but write.
The major charge against the housing scheme is that it has been developed on green land. The crime, if committed is of “capital” proportions. Developing societies on green land is sinful. Lahore is the second biggest city in Pakistan with a population of around 13 million people. Instead of growing vertically, which all metropolitan cities do, the city is expanding and devouring the fertile agricultural belt.
We all know how convenient it is to declare a green/agricultural land as residential or industrial. The real problem does not lie with one housing scheme or another, the real culprit is the system and the institutions that turn a blind eye when they are asked to.
The majority of the housing schemes are being developed on cultivable land in Punjab. Real estate is the most profitable business. You can be a millionaire in no time. Pick any real estate tycoon and you will find the same “rags to riches” story. Mario Puzo’s golden words “behind every big fortune there is a crime” seem most appropriate in the context.
Building a housing scheme on green land is not the only crime committed by Iqbal Garden. The Scheme is also said to have forged LDA letters to run its campaign on media. As per PEMRA instructions, no illegal housing scheme can run its campaign on media. The NOC by LDA has been made mandatory for all housing schemes before campaign airing.
It was the aggressive outdoor campaign of Iqbal Garden that made it noticeable. It must have raised a few eyebrows amongst the competition giving LDA enough ground to take action. It remains to be seen how things proceed in the coming days.