KARACHI: The Sindh Assembly was told on Monday that as many as 1,006 out of 1,414 identified katchi abadis had been notified as the provincial government intended to provide ownership to poor people living in shantytowns.

While furnishing a statement and replies to the lawmakers’ written and verbal queries during the Question Hour session in the house, Human Settlement Minister Ghulam Murtaza Baloch said Karachi alone had 575 identified shantytowns and 469 of them had been notified.

Giving the breakup of the katchi abadis across the province, he said that there were 408 slums in Hyderabad, 144 in Shaheed Benazirabad, 112 in Larkana, 91 in Sukkur and 84 in Mirpurkhas.

The minister said that 262 shantytowns had been notified in Hyderabad, 65 in Sukkur, 70 in Larkana, 49 in Mirpurkhas and 91 in Shaheed Benazirabad as per the master list of the shantytowns under the Sindh Katchi Abadis Act 1987.

He said the process of granting ownership rights was in process in various katchi abadis across the province. “The Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority (SKAA) has so far regularised 350 katchi abadis and owners of over 43,991 units had been granted lease in the province,” he added.

To a verbal query, the minister said that the shantytowns established up to 1997 were identified under the law. He said that a bill would soon be tabled in the provincial assembly to identify and regularise those slums which were established up to 2012 as was done in Punjab.

Sharing a district-wise breakup of shantytowns in Karachi, Mr Baloch said there were as many as 125 identified katchi abadis in district Central, 71 in Malir, 114 in East, 63 in South and 202 in West.

He said the provincial government intended to regularise all those settlements which emerged up to June 30, 1997 as provided in the SKAA 1987.

In reply to a question, the minister said that occupants of units in one katchi abadi in Korangi (Karachi), four in Jacobabad, three in Khairpur and one in Sukkur were given allotment letters.

As for the criterion of declaring a shantytown as katchi abadi, he said that settlement should be in existence on or before June 1997 and it must have at least 40 dwelling units.

In reply to another question, Baloch said that as many as nine katchi abadis were upgraded during 2015-2016 and seven others in 2016-2017.

He said that two shantytowns were upgraded in Malir and one each in district Central (Karachi), Korangi, South, Mirpurkhas, Thatta, Sukkur and Larkana in 2015-16 while two each katchi abadis were upgraded in Mirpurkhas and Benazirabad and one each in Mirpurkhas, Thatta, Naushahro Feroz and district Malir in 2016-17.

To a verbal question, the minister said that the authority lacked the required funds for upgrading the slums.

To another verbal query, he said that it was not the responsibility of the SKAA to restrict the emergence of shantytowns in the province.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2019