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Slum dwellers jirga demand alternative place

January 02, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Jan 2: Residents of the squatter settlement in sector I-11 held a meeting on Wednesday to demand adequate compensation if the Capital Development Authority (CDA) wants them to move from their current abodes.

On the other hand, CDA insists that the residents are illegal occupants and not entitled to any sort of compensation.

Hundreds of people reportedly gathered in front of the katchi abadi and were staging a sit-in under the aegis of the Katchi Abadi Protection Committee.

The protesters claimed that the CDA had been trying to create a law and order situation but they would not let law-enforcement agencies and policy-makers be misguided.

Zameen Khan, president of the Katchi Abadi Protection Committee, told Dawn that over 15,000 people have been living in the settlement for the last 40 years but the CDA is not ready to accept their rights.

(The CDA disputes this number and claims that only 7,995 people live in the area.)

Zameen Khan still accused the agency of partisan attitude: “The CDA has legalised Muslim Colony, Faisal Colony and other colonies in the city but when we request them to legalize the katchi abadi they ignore us because we don’t have political connections.”

Mufti Abdullah, the general secretary of the committee, pointed out that most of the residents work in the Fruit and Vegetable Market and the squatter is the nearest to the market.

“The CDA has been trying to propagate that criminals and terrorists live here but the fact is that the Sabzi Mandi Police Station is 35 yards away from the main basti and the police have never taken any action against the residents. We have been living peacefully and we work in the Fruit and Vegetable Market,” he said.

He added: “We don’t want to leave the area but the CDA has been claiming that the land on which the katchi abadi is has already been allotted. If the CDA is serious about developing the area, they should move us to Bokra village where the land is still vacant and has not been allotted to any person.”

On the other hand, Ibrahim Khan and Iqbal Shah, residents of the settlement, opined that they should be allowed to live in sector I-11 and the allottees of the plots be adjusted somewhere else.

“The katchi abadi was established much before the allotment of plots,” Iqbal Shah said.

While talking to Dawn, CDA spokesman Ramzan Sajid said that some people were insisting on staying in sector I-11 without any valid reason and land cannot be awarded to occupants.

“The policy is that the CDA acquires land and sells it to allottees. Same is the case in I-11, we have allotted the land and allottees have been waiting for the plots. We have requested the current residents to willingly move out or face forced eviction,” he explained.