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KARACHI: Master plan seeks coastal land control for city govt

June 03, 2008

KARACHI, June 2: The Karachi Strategic Development Plan (KSDP 2020), better known as the master plan, recommends grant of planning control of the coastal areas to the city government so that uplift works are carried out in conformity with its waterfront development vision.

At present, the coastal area land is controlled by several authorities, including the Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Navy, Karachi Port Trust, Port Qasim Authority, Defence Housing Authority, Lyari Development Authority, Kannup, Sindh government and city government.

The master plan suggests that a coastal uplift plan be made an integral part of the city’s development strategy. It explains that land use, commercial and residential development with impacts on water supply, waste disposal, transportation and infrastructure must be linked with the city. It calls for adoption of the provisions of the Karachi Coastal Recreation Development Plan 1990-2000 that identifies the nature of development on the coast, the areas to be utilised for recreational use and sensitive ecological areas marked for protection and conservation.

City government officials say that the city government does want ownership of the coastal area land being controlled by several agencies. But, they say, in order to bring uniformity in future development, the master plan recommends that the ‘planning control’ of the coastal area should vest with the city government. This is how the government can ensure that any development taking place in the coastal area is in compliance with waterfront development vision and parameters as envisaged in the KSDP-2020.

They point out that the DHA’s waterfront development project and a proposed project of Sugarland City along Hawkesbay are not in line with the recommendations as envisaged in the master plan.

While the master plan recognises the potential of coastal areas for future development projects, it suggests that the historic right of fishing communities to the sea and coastal villages land be respected and they should not be forced to abandon their land or source of livelihood.

“We have made it clear in the approved master plan that fishermen must enjoy free access to their traditional grounds in the sea, backwaters and creeks and the local villagers should not be dispossessed and their village lands not acquired by the government,” says EDO Master Plan Iftikhar Ali Kaimkhani.

The master plan, he says, recommends preservation and promotion of the seashore and beaches as public assets and suggests that public access to the beaches and the coast must remain free and no development be allowed in an area up to 150 metres from the high-water mark.

The EDO says that the master plan recommends that land-use and other regulations, which prohibit waterfront construction, be strengthened to ensure public access and that their rights are not eroded or usurped by any particular group. It has been mentioned in the master plan that where developments along the coast are inevitable or in many cases desirable, those should not be at the expense of putting physical or economic restrictions on public access.

He, however, maintains that the consent of the land controlling authority concerned is a must for any development project and any uplift plan be presented for soliciting public opinion and finalised with public participation. All development plans must be chalked out and implemented in conformity with the Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations-2002. An environmental impact assessment study must also be undertaken, the EDO adds.

The development scheme, the master plan says, should be self-sufficient and sustainable with regard to the requirements of water, electricity, treatment and safe disposal of sewage and solid waste. The plan is also against the reclamation along any section of the seafront either on the landward side or the bordering sea, and any morphological change in the mud flats, marshes and backwater creeks as it would impact seriously the harbour regime. However, the reclamation being detrimental to the hydrological environment, particularly around the Karachi Port and Port Qasim, should not be allowed without an in-depth hydrological study.

Besides, the master plan recommends that sanctuary for green turtles and mangrove ecological system along the beach, in the backwaters and creek must be preserved and measures against its degradation should be urgently taken to control pollution.