KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the provincial authorities to file within two weeks a comprehensive report suggesting a solution to the encroachments and illegal constructions and how to restore the provincial capital to its past glory.

The apex court also sought an original master plan of the provincial capital and deplored that the state land belonging to the provincial and federal authorities had not only been encroached upon, but huge constructions had also been made on it before the eyes of the government.

A two-judge bench of the apex court headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed directed the heads of the cantonments boards of Karachi to remove all commercial activities from their jurisdictions and to appear in person with a report at the next hearing.

At the outset of the hearing, Advocate General of Sindh Salman Talibuddin made a statement in compliance with the Jan 22 order of the bench regarding illegal constructions and submitted that he was going to consult all relevant authorities of the provincial government.

Orders removal of commercial activities from cantonment board jurisdiction

The provincial law officer further submitted that consultations would also be made with officials of the Karachi Development Authority, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and cantonment boards as well as other agencies such as Karachi Port Trust, Civil Aviation Authority, Pakistan International Airlines and Evacuee Trust Property Board to restore the city’s past glory.

They will also consult all the top city planners regarding how the existing buildings, which can be removed, should be removed and consequently how displaced people can be rehabilitated.

However, the bench said it seemed that land around the Malir River and in Korangi Industrial Area had been occupied for commercial purposes and constructions had already been made.

Similarly, there are so many other places all over the city, which are meant to remain open or for parks and other amenity purposes, which have been allowed to be used for commercial purposes.

The land of the federal and provincial governments had been occupied illegally in Karachi and huge constructions had been raised on such land before the eyes of the government, it added.

The bench also pointed out that huge encroachments and constructions were also made on Railways land.

The advocate general stated that he was going to find a solution to the issue and an urgent meeting of all the secretaries would be called while a cabinet meeting would also be held within two weeks.

The bench directed him to come with a comprehensive report and the original and unamended master plan of the city.

Encroachments in cantonments

The bench summoned the chief executive officers and chairmen of all the cantonment boards of Karachi and the cantonment boards’ director for land at the next hearing with reports about the removal of all sorts of commercial activities from cantonment lands.

The court ordered the removal of commercial activities from military land, particularly the marquees on the emergency military medical supplies land and adjoining wedding halls and grand convention hall on Korangi Road near the FTC building and all the cantonment lands. It also ruled that the land was to be used only for the cantonment purposes and their use must be restored.

The bench also sought a report from cantonments’ officials, including areas along Rashid Minhas Road, Karsaz and Sharea Faisal.

“On the land of old Sabzi Mandi a marriage hall has been constructed by military people; it shall be removed and Askari Park shall be restored and it is ensured that a proper park on the whole land of Sabzi Mandi is available to the public for their recreation and enjoyment,” it added.

While adjourning the matter for two weeks, the court also put the chairmen of the KPT, PIA and KE, the KMC commissioner, CAA DG, and officials of State Life Insurance Corporation and Airport Security Force as well as attorney general of Pakistan on notice for the next hearing.

KWSB club demolished

The managing director of the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board through a compliance report informed the bench that as per its directive, the wedding hall and officers club, constructed on land meant for amenity purposes near Sharea Faisal, had been demolished. The MD sought two months’ time to make a public park on the land as directed by the apex court in its order on Jan 22.

Aziz Bhatti Park

The KDA director general submitted that all encroachments, including Customs club, nurseries and marriage hall, had been removed from the Aziz Bhatti Park and the entire land had been made available and was being developed as a model park.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2019