Forced evacuation: Rs700m in compensation for evicted Katcha Bunder residents

Senator Islamuddin Shaikh discusses compensation plans.


Sarfaraz Memon June 07, 2011

SUKKUR:


Seven hundred million rupees will go as compensation to the people forced to leave their illegal homes on unsafe land between the River Indus and the Katcha Bunder wall that protects Sukkur from rising water.


The president sanctioned the compensation as these residents have to evacuate the area, said Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Islamuddin Shaikh at a press conference at Sukkur House on Tuesday.

Though the residents are illegal occupants of the unsafe land on the river banks, the “PPP government is still providing them compensation on humanitarian grounds,” said Shaikh.

“Ever since the repair work started on the Bunder wall, many people started politicising the issue of evacuating the Katcha Bunder residents, trying to instigate clashes between residents and the administration.”

The senator decided to stay in Sukkur to fix the problem and met the Sindh government, administration and residents. “It was a difficult task, especially with the rumours about the launch of a forced evacuation operation,” he added.

Spooked by the rumours, the residents organised protests and demonstrations against the government and they took the matter to the Sindh High Court. After meeting the senator, however, they agreed to leave the Katcha Bunder if the government promised that no five-star hotel or high-rise building would be constructed inside the Bunder wall. Their homes qualified as encroachments on the river bed during dry season, especially. The squatters had spread so much that the settlement altered the flow of the water, a danger that surfaced in the summer last year with the floods. Additionally, these people put their lives at risk to live in an area that could be inundated during the monsoon. Many of them were duped into buying the land.

The federal government released the money and divided the recipients into three categories. According to an area survey, there are 1,379 houses, out of which 744 are cemented and fall under category A.

Nearly 377 katcha houses fall under category B and 258 mud-plastered huts fall under category C. Shaikh said people in category A will receive Rs600,000 and people in category B will be given Rs400,000, while Rs200,000 would be distributed to residents in category C.

The payments will be disbursed among residents starting on Wednesday after which they must evacuate their houses. The godowns constructed by iron merchants inside the Bunder wall will be demolished without compensation, because they are illegal occupants, added the senator. The iron market will be shifted to the outskirts of Sukkur.

The senator said the mosques and high-rise buildings inside the Bunder wallwill not be touched but other buildings inside the wall will be demolished. The senator also discussed the government’s plan to protect Sukkur from the floods.

Sukkur is at least 18 feet below river level and securing the Bunder wall will protect Sukkur and other towns in upper Sindh. “Raising the wall by two feet will help reduce pressure on the barrage. Since higher water levels are expected this year, all precautionary measures should be taken,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2011.

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