KARACHI: An anti-encroachment tribunal restrained on Monday the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) from demolishing the houses built over duly leased land during an ongoing operation along Gujjar Nullah.
The tribunal, headed by its presiding officer Shakil Ahmed Abbasi, stayed the demolition activity for 15 days on two separate suits filed by residents of Federal B Area and New Karachi against possible demolition of their houses on the leased land along the nullah.
The plaintiffs had cited the local government secretary, Karachi administrator and commissioner, the chairman of District Municipal Corporation East, the director general/chairman of the Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority and the chairman of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) as defendants.
During Monday’s proceedings, Assistant Commissioner (Central) Dr Muhammad Hasan Tariq appeared before the tribunal and submitted that marking of the unauthorized and illegally raised constructions was within the domain of the KMC in the areas falling within its jurisdiction.
A tribunal is told rehabilitation of people displaced in an anti-encroachment operation is Sindh govt’s responsibility
An NDMA representative submitted that that the Supreme Court had given mandate to the authority to clear the nullahs in the metropolis while identifying illegal constructions and demolishing them.
He said rehabilitation of the people displaced during such an operation was the duty assigned to the Sindh government by the apex court.
A legal adviser for the KMC gave an undertaking that no construction over duly leased lands would be demolished during the operation along Gujjar Nullah.
Following the undertaking and a request made by the plaintiffs’ counsel, the tribunal granted an interim stay order, restraining the KMC from demolishing the plaintiffs’ houses that had purportedly been built over the land said to have been duly leased by the Katchi Abadi department and the Karachi Development Authority.
The tribunal called reports from the officials of the respective departments till the next date.
In the suit, plaintiff Advocate Khawaja Altaf had submitted that he had built a house in F B. Area’s Block 5 after obtaining lease from the provincial Katchi Abadi department upon fulfilling all the requisite legal formalities in 2002.
He said that the department had granted 99-year lease to him in respect of the subject plot. However, the officials of the KMC’s anti-encroachment department had marked his house as illegal and he came to know that the same construction would be demolished on Feb 18 or so.
In the second suit, the plaintiffs had submitted that they had built houses in New Karachi after obtaining 99-year lease from the KDA, but KMC officials had marked their houses as illegal and it was feared that the same would be demolished on Feb 18 or so.
They contended that the action by the provincial and KMC authorities was illegal and unwarranted since they possessed proper lease documents in respect of the subject plots, where they had built their houses.
Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2021