KARACHI: City and municipal administration have decided to remove all encroachments in Saddar within three weeks and an anti-encroachment task force consisting of officers from different institutions will be notified in two days to launch the operation, it emerged on Saturday.

Official sources told Dawn that a high-level meeting, presided over by Mayor Wasim Akhtar was held at the office of the city commissioner to chalk out a strategy to make Saddar, one of the main commercial areas of the city, encroachment-free in the light of the Supreme Court’s order.

The mayor said that the SC order for the removal of encroachments had now paved the way for strict action against encroachers and land grabbers, many of whom had earlier obtained stay orders to keep the grabbed land under their illegal occupation.

Karachi Commissioner Iftikhar Shalwani said that a task force would also be formed to check and monitor re-emergence of encroachments round the clock after their removal.

Metropolitan Commissioner of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation Dr Syed Saif-ur-Rehman informed the meeting that the municipal administration had completed its preparation to launch the anti-encroachment operation in Saddar. The action will start in the next two days and all encroachments, including concrete structures, shops, stalls and pushcarts, would be removed in the area stretching from Naveed Clinic to Lucky Star in Saddar.

He said that more than 90 per cent of the footpaths were illegally occupied by encroachers, while there were a large number of encroachments in and around the iconic Empress Market.

The metropolitan commissioner said that the frontmen of land grabber and encroachment mafia were operating hundreds of illegal stalls in Saddar.

It was decided in the meeting that the ringleaders of land mafia would be booked and arrested.

The meeting also decided to ban the entry of vehicular traffic in Saddar on Saturdays and Sundays. It decided that handicraft and book stalls would be set up on these two days.

The meeting was also told that encroachers in Saddar were being informed of the proposed action through pamphlets and ordered to vacate the illegally occupied places on their own.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2018