SC issues notices to two Clifton hospitals for operating on amenity plots

Published June 17, 2021
A view of the 15-storey Nasla Tower off Shahrah-i-Quaideen on Wednesday, which the apex court has ordered to be demolished.
—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
A view of the 15-storey Nasla Tower off Shahrah-i-Quaideen on Wednesday, which the apex court has ordered to be demolished. —Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued show-cause notices to two leading private hospitals of the city located in Clifton for running their health facilities on land meant for amenity purposes.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed also directed the director general of the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) to come up with a comprehensive report on the next hearing regarding all the ST plots (amenity plots) located in Clifton and Kehkashan schemes as well as the rest of the city in the light of the master plan.

The bench also comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed also ordered the KDA chief to identify those who had encroached upon such plots and when, how and who had allowed such allotments as well as the current status of these plots and produce the same before it.

When KDA chief Nasir Abbas Soomro filed a report and plan of Clifton and Kehkashan schemes and a map produced by NGO Shehri about malls (Com 1, Com 3, Com 4, Com 5) adjacent to the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in Clifton, the bench noted that many other ST plots in the area had also been encroached upon.

A federal govt request seeking temporary halt of anti-encroachment drive along Gujjar, Orangi nullahs rejected

The bench issued show-cause notices to the South City Hospital and Ziauddin Hospital and asked them why the hospitals may not be removed from such plots since they were operating on land meant for amenity use.

The CJP came down hard on the KDA DG for allowing encroachments on ST plots instead of clearing them and also reminded him that the apex court had passed many orders to remove encroachments from 36,000 such plots across the city.

He remarked that shopping malls and restaurants were also built on amenity plots and asked who was altering the master plan of the city.

The DG claimed that the land of Com 3 Mall was allotted by the then chief minister in 1977. Justice Ahsan said that how a chief minster could allot the land reserved for amenity purposes. The bench also asked him to come up with the complete record regarding the land of Com 3 on the next hearing.

Demolition of Nasla Tower ordered

The bench directed the Karachi commissioner to demolish a 15-storey building, known as Nasla Tower, and file a compliance report.

Appearing on behalf of the building owner, Barrister Salahuddin Ahmed argued that 780-sq-yds land in question was leased out in 1956 and for the remaining portion the Sindhi Muslim Cooperative Housing Society had issued a letter in their favour.

However, Justice Ahsan said that around 400-sq-yds land meant for the service road was also used for constructing the high-rise and there was no additional lease and it could not be legalised on the basis of a letter issued by the society.

He further said that the report of the commissioner also highlighted irregularities in the allotment of the land in question and said that there was a 280-foot-wide service road.

The lawyer said that the entire tower might not be demolished since a major portion of the plot was leased. However, the CJP said that the building could not be sustained after partial demolition.

The bench also turned down a request of Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan for a temporary stay against the ongoing anti-encroachment operation around the Gujjar and Orangi Town nullahs.

He submitted that it was a human disaster as around 40,000 people had been displaced overnight and requested the apex court to stay the drive for a week since the federal government was willing to discuss the issue with the chief minister and other provincial authorities for rehabilitation of the affected people.

The CJP asked him that they could sit with provincial authorities to chalk out a plan within a week, but the demolition drive could not be stayed.

K-IV to be completed by Oct 2023

Retired Lt Gen Muzammil Hussain, the chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda), informed the bench that the Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme, commonly known K-IV, will be completed by October 2023.

However, he requested the bench to issue directives to the Sindh government to facilitate Wapda on the issue of the right of way (ROW) and to ensure timely provision of funds.

He said that the project was being jointly funded by the federal and Sindh governments and it would provide additional supply of 650mgd to the provincial metropolis.

The attorney general as well as the advocate general-Sindh assured the bench that they would instruct their respective governments for timely release of funds.

The chairman further said that this project was initiated around 13 years ago and Wapda had taken it over in January this year and completed the study work and consultants had also been appointed.

Pavilion End Club

The CJP expressed serious resentment with Karachi Administrator Laeeq Ahmed for not complying with its order to remove the Pavilion End Club and all commercial activities on the premises of Aladdin amusement park in Gulshan-i-Iqbal.

The administrator submitted that they were lacking manpower and machinery and needed funds to carry out the demolition exercise.

The chief justice directed the administrator to get the required support from other departments and to comply with its order within a week and warned that in case of failure he would face the consequences.

He also expressed surprise over construction of a shopping plaza on the premises meant for a park when the administrator conceded that there were over 400 shops.

The apex court further asked the administrator to develop the premises along with an adjacent plot from which illegal construction was recently removed into a park/green belt.

The CJP berated Advocate Faisal Siddiqui for interfering when he was dictating the order.

Mr Siddiqui was representing the Pavilion End Club and requested the bench to allow the club to operate on a portion of the land in question and claimed that the shops were leased.

The CJP made it clear that no private company would be allowed to operate on the subject land and the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation would run it as a park.

On June 14, the bench had ordered the demolition after observing that the Aladdin Park was converted into Pavilion End Club and membership was being offered against heavy fees along with other commercial activities.

Digitization of revenue record

The bench also expressed displeasure with the Sindh Board of Revenue (BoR) for not complying with its earlier orders and seeking further time to complete the digitization of the revenue record and also expressed dissatisfaction over a report filed by the senior member BoR.

It directed the BoR to implement its previous orders and immediately remove encroachments and illegal constructions from government land and warned the senior official that coercive action would be taken against him if he again failed to comply with its orders.

The bench also sought report about the digitization of record within three months.

The CJP deplored that despite the lapse of a considerable period even 50 per cent survey of the city could not be completed. The bench was told that over 8,000 acres of government land had been retrieved from encroachers.

A lawyer for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government submitted that the second phase of digitization of the revenue record would be completed in 2022.

An official of the Balochistan government submitted that they had completed the digitization of the revenue record of four districts and remaining task would be done soon.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021

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