The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) officials on Monday said as many as 800 shops in the famous city markets were demolished during the third week of the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in the metropolis — being carried out on the directives of the Supreme Court.
“Nearly 350 illegally-built shops in Aram Bagh furniture market and 450 shops near the Light House area were razed by the anti-encroachment staff with the help of heavy machinery,” said a KMC official.
The local authority termed it the "second major action" after the anti-encroachment drive around the historical Empress Market, where over 1,400 shops were demolished last week.
Editorial: Anti-encroachment drive
According to the KMC spokesperson, the demolition was monitored by Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Syed Saifur Rehman, who asserted that the illegal structures were being removed on the directives of the apex court and that "no one will be allowed to acquire even an inch of space illegally."
Sharing details of the operations, Dr Rehman said a total of 175 shops were registered with the Estate Department of KMC in the Aram Bagh market and 297 were registered in Lunda Bazaar, however, these shops were later divided and made 450 and 350 shops, respectively, by the shopkeepers on their own.
All Karachi Tajir Ittehad Chairman Atiq Mir told Dawn that as many as 450 shops were demolished in both the areas, rendering around 2,000 families jobless.
Mir pointed out that the shopkeepers and vendors, whose shops were demolished, have been doing businesses here for the past 38 years and that they regularly paid rent to the KMC.
The business leader suggested that those shopkeepers who have been paying rent to the KMC should be provided alternative places for doing their business.
Separately, shopkeepers affected by the anti-encroachment drive held a protest rally outside the Karachi Press Club, requesting the chief justice to take notice of the allegedly ruthless drive and provide them alternative places for conducting business.