KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has directed the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) to remove all dividers from various roads in order to allow storm water flow into drains and regulate traffic flow.

A two-judge bench comprising Justice Nadeem Akhtar and Justice Mohammad Abdur Rahman also observed that dividers had been placed on either side of storm water drains, constructed in the centre of roads, which would prevent water from entering such drains and frustrated the very purpose of construction of drains.

The court directed the respondents to comply with its order within three weeks and file a compliance report.

Dr Mazhar Naeem had petitioned the SHC in July against bifurcation of streets/roads in DHA Phase-I and placing dividers on both sides of drainage pathway in the middle of roads, resultantly offending effective discharge of storm water as well as to disturb the smooth flow of traffic.

The lawyer for the petitioner argued that respondents had placed dividers illegally and without lawful authority as they had frustrated the purpose of construction of storm water drains all together.

However, the officials and lawyers for the DHA and CBC contended that such actions were not based on any policy of the CBC and they acted at the behest of area residents who had complained that in the absence of dividers, traffic flow was very unruly and motorcyclists tended to move freely between both sides of the dual carriageway, disturbing traffic flow.

The bench in its order said, “It is apparent that the respondent No. 2 [DHA] and/or the respondent No.3 [CBC] have constructed storm water drains in the centre of the roads and the purpose of which is to channel storm water so as to prevent urban flooding.”

It also noted that the dividers had been placed on either side of the drains and the same would prevent water from entering such drains.

While agreeing with the petitioner, the bench was of the view that the contention of the respondents about traffic flow needed to be regulated so as to prevent motorcyclists from crossing over the opposite of the road also merits consideration.

“In the facts and circumstances we direct that the respondent No. 2 and/or the respondent No.3 shall remove all dividers next to the areas where grills have been affixed on top of the storm water drain to allow storm water flow to enter into storm water drains; and at intersection of roads to allow the traffic to move freely within this area,” the bench in its order concluded.

It was submitted in the petition that the DHA Order enable DHA to frame rules and regulations, but the same were framed only concerning building works, but did not attend to matters which concerned the impugned scheme or incidences thereof.

Planning and altering streets and public pathways, including drainage works was an aspect of town planning, he maintained and argued that in absence of rules permitting procedural observance of such authority was a matter of grave concerns and thus distressing and disqualifying exercise of public rights and expectations.

Published in Dawn, December 17th, 2023

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