KARACHI: The Supreme Court has directed the Karachi administrator to remove encroachments on the premises of the Gutter Baghicha park and restore it to its original shape and to properly maintain it for public.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed said they had been informed that Gutter Baghicha, being one of the parks required to be maintained by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), was a picture of neglect and had been taken over by encroachers.

The hearing in this regard was held on Monday and the written order was released on Wednesday.

According to the order, the bench directed Administrator Murtaza Wahab that original nature of the park be restored and the same was maintained property for the people.

It further said that the report filed by Mr Wahab regarding parks and amenity plots had been found unsatisfactory and the bench directed him to submit a complete list of amenity plots within the jurisdiction of the KMC and the present status of each plot together with its dimensions and a note to the effect whether these were being used for the purpose spelt out in the master plan.

SC says provincial govt functionaries are not interested in getting encroachments removed

The apex court further ordered him to ensure that all playgrounds for children must be restored after immediate removal of encroachments and steps be taken to ensure that such areas were not encroached upon again.

The administrator submitted that around 9,500 shops and a number of huts located on Hawkesbay beach were owned by the KMC and in the past such properties had been rented out on very low rates and added that steps were being taken to enhance the rent to bring it up to the level of current market rates.

The bench also directed him to submit a complete list of all such properties identifying each of its number and location so that the court could pass an appropriate order if necessary.

“We also notice that despite formation of anti-encroachments tribunals, most of such tribunals without any work in view of the fact that different functionaries of the government of Sindh are not interested in getting encroachments removed. This amounts to institutionalized corruption which must be dealt with at all costs through all legal instruments available under the law,” it added.

The bench further asked the administrator to file a report explaining that why his office had kept quiet on the issue and desisted so far from approaching the tribunal for orders regarding removal of encroachments through legal process.

It asked him to place all such reports on record within two weeks and thereafter the matter would be listed for hearing in the next sessions.

The bench further said that a report filed by provincial law officer on the behalf of the Sindh chief minister regarding rehabilitation of people displaced after a demolition drive on the directive of the apex court around Gujjar, Orangi Town and Mehmoodabad nullahs was found to be unsatisfactory and not in line with the spirit of the court.

While appearing before it, CM Murad Ali Shah also made an effort to justify the contents of the report, which explanation had been found to be equally unsatisfactory, it added.

The bench had drawn the attention to some paragraphs of the report, which said that the Sindh government would provide land free of cost to the affectees and in order to develop infrastructure as well as construction of housing units, an application would be filed before the apex court for disbursing Rs10 billion deposited by Bahria Town Karachi in the light of the earlier order of the court.

The bench said that it had repeatedly pointed out in the past that the said matter was sub judice before an implementation bench of the SC and even on the last hearing the court had categorically made it clear to the advocate general that the provincial government needed to generate its own funds to rehabilitate the affectees.

“Eventually, the CM undertook that the required amount will be arranged by the provincial government from its own sources and the project to rehabilitate the affectees will be completed in all respects within a maximum period of two years,” it added.

The bench directed the Sindh government to file monthly reports regarding the progress made in this matter supported by necessary documentation and photographs of the work being undertaken on the land already allocated by the government for this purpose.

Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2021

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