KARACHI: The municipal administration is learnt to have sought help of the Rangers and Sindh police for retrieving the illegally occupied land of the sewerage farm, better known as Gutter Baghicha.
Sources in the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation told Dawn on Tuesday that a group of heavily armed land grabbers had recently occupied 200 acres of the KMC Officers Housing Society and 162 acres of the park on the sewerage farm and the police were not taking any action against the illegal occupants despite registration of an FIR against them.
They said gun-toting land grabbers stormed the office of the KMC Officers Housing Society on Dec 26 last year, beat up the watchmen and occupied the land of the housing society and the adjacent 162 acres meant for establishing a model city park.
The sources said that the KMC authorities immediately approached the Pak Colony police but to no avail as they initially refused to register an FIR against the suspects.
They said the FIR was registered only after the KMC authorities approached the Karachi commissioner.
Suspects have occupied 200 acres of the KMC Officers Housing Society and 162 acres of the park on the sewerage farm
They said Mayor Wasim Akhtar on Tuesday held a meeting with senior KMC officers and decided to immediately inform the Rangers and police high-ups about the land grabbing. The meeting was attended among others by senior director of anti-encroachment Bashir Siddiqui.
While talking to Dawn, the mayor expressed grave concern over the silence and inaction of the police and district administration on the illegal occupation of the Gutter Baghicha land.
He said the municipal administration was taking action against encroachments on official land across the city.
The mayor said the KMC was seeking assistance from the Rangers and police for evicting the armed illegal occupants.
The sources said that the entire land of the Gutter Baghicha, spread over 1,106 acres, had been encroached upon.
They said the land was allotted to the KMC in 1860 under the approval of the viceroy of India and 200 acres of it were allocated for the KMC Officers Housing Society and 162 acres for a park in 1992.
However the matter was delayed owing to a case filed by some non-governmental organisations in court.
Its appellation of ‘gutter’ originates from storm-drainage channels of the Lyari River, which later also carried the sewage from the adjoining areas to the place, then used for growing cereals, green fodder and vegetables.
Located near the city centre, the amenity plot, described in the documents as a “sewage farm”, has been allowed by successive city administrations to be progressively encroached upon for katchi abadis, marble workshops, industrial units and dumping of garbage and filth from different towns of the city.
In numerous government maps and documents over the past 100 years the Baghicha has been shown as ‘Municipal Garden’ and the KMC budget documents of as late as 1993-94 show the income from Gutter Baghicha Park.
Mayor visits zoo
Mayor Wasim Akhtar visited the Karachi Zoo on Tuesday with Metropolitan Commissioner Dr Syed Saif-ur-Rehman and others to review the training session held in the zoo for its staff.
Zoo director Kanwar Ayub gave a detailed briefing on the training programme that has been arranged to provide them with latest information and techniques on the management of a zoological garden.
The mayor expressed his satisfaction on the training programme and said that this would help the zoo staff perform their duty in a professional way.
He said the KMC was taking all measures to improve the facilities for visitors in the zoo.
Published in Dawn, February 5th, 2020