Land-sliding at Katti Pahari, which injured two people on Tuesday, has left city officials struggling to find solutions.
“The hill is made up of slippery sand just like mud. The rocks are not actually solid but the sheer size makes them dangerous,” said Altaf Memon, the city’s director-general for technical services. “It has happened before a number of times as well.”
Land-sliding is usually prevented with metal fencing or meshes but as the Katti Pahari hill does not slope and is upright like a flat wall, this option is difficult to take.
The previous incidents were caused by attempts to build houses on the hill, Memon said. “I am sure some sort of construction activity was taking place today as well.”
Some experts have suggested the city import special material that will help keep the sand in place. “We are not sure how that works but we have decided to look into this as a priority.”
Muhammad Usman, who lives on top of the hill, said the land sliding occurred around 8am. “It has been happening at least once a month but this time it was a big block that plunged on to the road.” Dumper trucks made 17 trips to clear all the mud and sand from the road. “The government has not done anything for our protection. It could have been cemented or at least iron fences could be put at the bottom,” Usman said.
The latest land-sliding has left six houses on the top very unsafe for their occupants, he said. Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s city nazim at the time, Mustafa Kamal, spearheaded the project to cut through Katti Pahari to create a road through it. A senior leader of the party said that land sliding was the result of continuous encroachments. “But in any case, the Karachi Municipal Corporation must do something about it. They should build some sort of protection at the bottom before someone loses a life or limb.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2012.