KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) was informed that despite a restraining order, several construction activities were being carried out at the Seaview beach and the Defence Housing Authority (DHA) could not justify such developments.

A court official (nazir) in his inspection report also said officials of the DHA and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) were directed to submit details about the constructions and Seaview beach development project, but despite the lapse of considerable time the same was being awaited till finalisation of the report.

On the directive of the SHC, the nazir had carried out the inspection of Seaview bench from Nishan-i-Pakistan to Clock Tower in order to examine the present status of the construction and other activities, in the presence of relevant parties.

The nazir in his report placed before the SHC also stated that a seven to eight feet tall stonewall was found to be built between Nishan-i-Pakistan to Clock Tower and as per officials of the CBC, the objective of such a wall was to protect the project from sand.

Court official inspects seafront, finds withering plants, dilapidated beach parks

Some sections of the beach park, located between Clock Tower to Chunky Monkey Amusement Park, had been found in dilapidated condition and, additionally, the coconut and palm trees/plants had been observed to be dead, the report added.

It also stated that a service road was being used for charged parking and the persons wearing jackets of the CBC were present there to collect parking fee.

A health café and ground-plus-one-floor restaurant was found constructed and another ground-plus-one-floor restaurant, and other construction works were being carried out at the Seaview bench, it maintained.

The report further said that a total of 11 food kiosks were found in partially decaying condition and seven to eight small shops were also appeared to be constructed while a room was also being built as labourers informed the nazir that it would be used for generator/machinery for the purpose of under-construction storm water drains and a premises was being used for information/rescue and the DHA security vigilance.

An open drain of untreated domestic sewage waste was also found discharging filthy water and waste directly into the sea and heaps of debris were found lying at two places, the report added.

It also submitted that eight under-construction storm water drains were also found from Clock Tower to Nisan-i-Pakistan Park and besides washrooms and prayer area, walkways and wooden seating arrangements were also available.

“Upon query from the DHA officials with regard to approval/permission of construction, they did not provide any information and could not justify the same. Hence, officials of the DHA and CBC were directed to submit detailed reports with regard to available constructions and the Seaview bench development project for placing the same before the Hon’ble Court. However, despite a lapse of considerable time the same is still awaited till the finalisation of the report,” it added.

The court official also submitted that as per the report filed by a director the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), the proponent of the project namely the CBC had submitted the Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) in December 2019 for the beach development project (from Nisan-i-Pakistan Park to Clock Tower).

After careful review and compliance with the legal formalities, Sepa said the subject project had been approved in February 2020, it added.

After taking the nazir’s report on record, the two-judge bench headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar said the respective parties would be at liberty to file objections, if any, and adjourned the hearing till May 6.

Last month, representing the petitioners, Zubair Ahmed Abro had pointed out several construction activities at the Seaview bench while the lawyers for the DHA and CBA had contended that they had not permitted any new constructions.

Thereafter, the SHC had appointed the nazir for inspection and directed the DHA and CBC to ensure that no new constructions should be carried out and that the construction activities must also be stopped till further orders.

Arif Belgaumi and others had petitioned the SHC in 2022 against the alleged commercialisation of the seafront from Nishan-i-Pakistan Park to Village Restaurant (Now Clock Tower) in the Phase-V of the DHA.

The petitioners had contended that an environmental tribunal had already set aside the IEE approval accorded by Sepa to the proposed commercialisation.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2024

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