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KARACHI: The Sindh government has decided to reactivate the Lines Area Redevelopment Project (Larp) to rehabilitate affected shopkeepers of Empress Market and its adjoining areas.

Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani, who is the chairman of the project, on Wednesday directed project director Mobin Siddiqui to make necessary preparations for expediting the resettlement plan.

Mr Siddiqui gave a detailed briefing to the LG minister about the project.

Larp was announced by the then government of prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1974. After Lines Area’s land was purchased from the army, then provincial finance minister Kamal Azfar got its master plan prepared by famed architect Yasmin Lari to build flats and plots for proper rehabilitation of 17,000 displaced families. However, some flat blocks were built on 10 acres in Jacob Lines and Abyssinia Lines by the time the Bhutto government was dismissed in 1977.

The provincial govt is planning to take back project’s land from KMC

The present government had reconstituted the board of governors of the project. It comprised of nine members — LG secretary, Karachi mayor, commissioner, director general of the Karachi Development Authority, director of the master plan department of the Sindh Building Control Authority, land management director of the KDA and an elected representative nominated by the chief — with LG minister as its chairman and project director as its secretary.

Talking to Dawn, the LG minister said that the KMC had acquired the land from Larp for temporary shifting of the affected traders of the Shahabuddin Market for three years but later a 10-storey Parking Plaza and shops were built on the land.

He said that now the Sindh government was planning to get back Larp land from the KMC to reactivate the flat project on the land for rehabilitation of the Empress Market’s traders at the site of the present Shahabuddin Market.

He said that in this connection the project director had been given necessary directives to get back the land and hand over the possession to the deserving owners, who have been running from pillar to post to get back their residential plots.

He said that the Parking Plaza was built with a cost of Rs750 million and at present Rs1m per month revenue was being generated by it.

He said that before initiating any project on the Larp land, approval would have to be taken from its governing body, which will be meeting next week.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2018