KARACHI: The Do Darya food street set up along the city’s coastline is on the verge of closure to pave the way for some upcoming high-end, seafront residential and commercial projects in Defence Phase VIII.

With hashtags #DoDarya, #SaveDoDarya doing rounds on social media, many citizens seem totally dejected at the idea of losing this scenic location to upscale developments.

Unlike the food streets in other parts of the city, the 1.5-kilometre-long food street offers a fine dining experience along with cooling sea breeze and scenic views and attracts visitors from all over Karachi and many foreigners.

Around 10 years ago, this barren area was notorious for drugs and other crimes. People feared to venture on this side and those who had bought plots in Phase VIII often dreaded the decision.

However, the investors who leased the spots at Do Darya took the risk and set up their food outlets in an outdoor setting. The concept took off and there was no looking back.

A Do Darya restaurateur said: “This place was barren. We were given a lease for five years [by the Defence Housing Authority]. We were given the assurance that it would be extended for another 20-25 years. We made sure to set up the place, bring value to the area and have thousands of people coming in every weekend.

“DHA had informed us that the lease would not be renewed, so we filed a case against them in 2014 and got a stay order ... the tenure of that stay order is set to finish in about two months,” he said, requesting anonymity.

‘Not an easy fight’

“DHA hopes we will vacate the area in about two months but we are fighting. It’s not an easy fight but we are trying,” the restaurant owner said, adding: “On an average, Rs250 million has been spent on the property and this investment is not coming back. When we vacate the premises, I can assure you they [DHA] won’t even let us walk away with wooden planks.”

The area offers employment to around 5,000 workers, including cooks, guards, waiters and valets.

A source said that the DHA had already taken over a number of establishments in the vicinity and posted its guards there.

A visit to the locality shows that some restaurants have shut down, with vehicles of DHA Vigilance patrolling the section.

A spokesman for the DHA was not available for comments when contacted.

Expensive properties in the offing

“The plots belong to the Army Sports Club and Navy Sports Club while the other pieces of land have been earmarked for Chinese investors who plan to build high-end, seafront properties,” said a realtor.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2018

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