It is puzzling to see how the authorities act with so much haste in tearing down schools and declaring their buildings unsafe for use as if there were surplus educational institutions in the country. This week, around 200 students of Ideal Public School left their school one day only to return the next day to find the building reduced to rubble. This newspaper reported that students could be seen picking out their books, copies, chairs and blackboards from the debris and moving it to the safer side.
The 15-room school was demolished by Karachi Development Authority (KDA) as, according to them, the school was running illegally and the land was encroached upon. While one cannot condone encroachments, we can wonder why in a locality like Korangi where there are thousands of encroached buildings all over, the KDA anti-encroachment cell decided to make the school its first target. The proprietor of the school has also said that he had bought the land from a KDA officer who had assured them that it was an amenity plot on which a school, park or hospital could be built on it. Despite attempts by the school principal to follow up with the officer who sold this plot, the KDA decided to bring down the school instead.
The demolishing of schools seems to have become a trend in Karachi where the land in many instances is then sold off to the builder mafia which moves ahead to construct mammoth housing and shopping plazas on it. We are still waiting for the results of the inquiry into the demolition of the Jufelhurst Government School.
While encroachments need to be checked, in the case of the Ideal Public School, the officer who fraudulently sold off a piece of land should also be taken to task. Every effort should be made to make an example of those who demolished it.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2017.