Sindh govt will 'wholeheartedly' implement SC order about razing illegal settlements: minister

Updated February 08, 2020

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Sindh Minister for Local Government Syed Nasir Hussain Shah addresses media on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
Sindh Minister for Local Government Syed Nasir Hussain Shah addresses media on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Sindh Minister for Local Government Syed Nasir Hussain Shah on Saturday vowed to "wholeheartedly" implement the Supreme Court's orders regarding the removal of encroachments and completion of planned development work in Karachi.

"The orders issued by the chief justice and the directions of the Supreme Court will be implemented wholeheartedly," he said while talking to reporters in Karachi.

The Supreme Court had on Friday directed the federal authorities to take action against unauthorised constructions and encroachments in Karachi’s PNT Colony, Delhi Colony and Punjab Colony and asked the Sindh government to carry out planned development work at Nehr-i-Khayyam in Clifton.

Also read: The demolition in Karachi’s Saddar area is inhumane and shameless

Shah said that in the first phase, buildings and structures without any occupants will be razed. For buildings where people are currently living, the government as a matter of "human sympathy" will provide the residents with alternative housing as part of a resettlement programme, he added.

"This is the only issue [of arranging alternative housing] that we are encountering. Action will be taken on all of the rest of the SC's orders."

The minister said a number of remarks given by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed regarding the state of affairs in the province "are quite helpful for us" and that the provincial government shares the CJP's vision.

Shah said the Sindh government had wanted to carry out development work at Nehr-i-Khayyam and make changes to Submarine Chowrangi underpass but some people had approached courts and obtained stay orders against the projects.

But he said following the orders issued by the CJP, the stay orders granted by lower courts will stand "null and void", which will support the provincial government's plans.

Noting that a large number of people are usually involved in illegal constructions, the minister said a vigilance committee of the government had removed 900 illegal structures in the city. He acknowledged, however, that because Karachi is such a large city, unauthorised construction still continues in many areas.

"Action was taken against people involved in such [constructions] in the past and will be taken in the future as well," he said.

Shah said the Sindh government has regularised many goths and villages where people have historically been living. "We never want to render anyone homeless but we also cannot allow anyone to occupy someone else's property," he added.

Responding to a question about the CJP's direction to restore the past glory of Karachi, Shah said while he could not comment on the top judge's remark, "Clearly, if you go back many years, the population of this city was much lower and there is a big difference between the conditions of that time and the present."

He expressed the hope that the CJP will also take action against "illegal immigrants" and other people from abroad living illegally in the country.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Ahmed, had on Friday expressed resentment over the federal and provincial authorities for not properly implementing its May 2019 order regarding the removal of encroachments and unauthorised buildings.

CJP Ahmed had earlier passed several orders against unauthorised and illegal constructions, encroachments on amenity plots, parks and other public spaces, commercial activities on cantonment lands, conversion of residential and amenity plots into commercial spaces and to restore the past glory of the provincial metropolis.

Shah in his media talk also said that an effort is being made for a long time to "destabilise the Sindh government". He claimed that last year, the Centre had not released billions worth of funds in Sindh's due share while during the ongoing year, the province has not been provided Rs130-135 billion that it was due to receive.

"This would of course have consequences for development but despite this, if you see any [development] projects being carried out anywhere in Pakistan, they are in Sindh," he claimed.

The minister added that the Sindh government is making efforts to complete all 131 of its ongoing development schemes by June 2020.