KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) came down hard on the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) authorities concerned on Wednesday and directed them to remove all encroachments and cabin shops from public parks and other amenity plots across the city.
The apex court's two-judge bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, also directed them to submit a compliance report by the next date of the hearing. The bench was hearing an application filed by Shakar Din against the removal of a cabin shop from the Lea Market locality at the SC's Karachi Registry.
The applicant had taken the metropolitan corporation authorities to the apex court for removing his stall from Lea Market and pleaded to the court to direct them to provide him alternative space.
However, the SC had taken serious exception to the practice of renting out spaces in public parks and on roads by the KMC authorities.
In July, the judges had directed the KMC to ensure all encroachments and cabins were removed from the public parks and amenity spaces in the city.
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The court had observed that the metropolitan corporation had no authority to allot cabins or stalls in playgrounds and public parks. It had clearly told the KMC commissioner not to use the space of public parks for commercial purposes.
Therefore, the apex court had also directed the commissioner to personally supervise the anti-encroachment campaign and submit a compliance report to show that these directives had been complied with.
On Wednesday, the judges took up the matter to see what progress had been made in light of its earlier directives to the KMC regarding clearing the public parks and amenity spaces of encroachments and cabins.
The officials maintained that the unauthorized constructions and cabins had been removed across the city in compliance with the court's orders.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, a bench member, observed that the whole Saddar locality and its adjoining areas were full of encroachments, but the officials were claiming to have removed them all under the guise of removing a few push-carts.
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"The police stations are running on the money received from such push-cart vendors," the top court's judge remarked. "The station house officers earn from these carts' vendors," the judges further observed.
Justice Ahmed observed that the KMC officials had even rented out public parks and allowed the footpaths to be used to run electricity generators outside the shops.
He asked the metropolitan corporation officials whether they give this money to the government or fill their own pockets with it. The officials failed to give satisfactory answer, irking the bench head.
The judges dismissed Din's application seeking alternative space to set up and run his stall. In the meantime, they told the KMC's anti-encroachment department to ensure all encroachments and cabins were removed from the public parks and amenity spaces. They were further told to submit a compliance report by the next date of hearing.