Rs200m needed for removal of debris produced by anti-encroachment drive

Updated December 19, 2018

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A massive anti-encroachment drive is currently under way in Karachi. — File
A massive anti-encroachment drive is currently under way in Karachi. — File

KARACHI: Amid serious criticism from the business community coupled with serious concerns raised lately by political parties, the anti-encroachment drive in Karachi continues but the city authorities are facing a new crisis as it sees removal and dumping of debris and rubbles beyond its financial capacity.

They sought a Rs200 million grant from the provincial government to remove the debris gathered after razing thousands of structures in the city, officials said.

The plea from the city administration came recently after thousands of tonnes debris of the removed structure in different districts emerged as a serious problem for area residents, traffic movement and those who were running their legitimate business.

The LG minister says he has raised the issue with the chief minister

A meeting between the provincial local government department and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) took the issue and shared their thoughts to find the solution.

“The KMC doesn’t have any fleet of its own machinery,” said Bashir Siddiqi, the KMC’s anti-encroachment director. “We get machinery on rent from different sources and hire the services of certain contractors for bulldozing operation. The operation so far is going on with the same methodology. In this situation, we cannot afford another huge spending on removal of debris.”

He said that 150,000 tonnes of debris of the encroachments around the Empress Market was lifted and dumped by the Bahria Town on its own but a large quantity of debris emerging everyday due to the ongoing operation lied in the middle of the streets, roads and markets affecting daily life badly.

The Sindh LG department was apprised of the situation by Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar and it had promised to take up the issue with the chief minister, he said.

The city administration launched an anti-encroachment operation last month that had changed the landscape of many Karachi’s commercial spots. The most significant development came when the heavy machinery bulldozed decades-old commercial areas around Empress Market.

The extensive clear-up operation around the historic 1887 market produced some 150,000 tonnes debris and attracted the attention of a real estate tycoon to remove the rubble. Since then, the operation has been producing thousands of tonnes debris everyday, which is left at the site with an excuse of having no resources to dump it.

This time around, the Sindh government of the Pakistan Peoples Party, however, is in agreement with the city administration being run by the elected representatives of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan about the lack of resources and financial capacity of the KMC for removing debris after the operation.

Sindh LG Minister Saeed Ghani said that his department had taken up the case with the chief minister with the hope that he would give a go-ahead for the provincial government’s assistance in this regard.

“We have proposed Rs200 million assistance from the provincial government to the city administration for removal of the debris produced during the operation,” Mr Ghani told Dawn. “The KMC has requested for that assistance and a summary has been sent to the chief minister in this regard. It’s not only about the removal of debris, the Sindh government would do everything even to rehabilitate and compensate the shopkeepers who have recently lost their businesses in the ongoing anti-encroachment drive.”

He said that the CM had already constituted a committee to work out a detailed report of the affected shopkeepers and recommend compensation so that they could be rehabilitated.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2018