With at least 1,500 families packed up to leave the Katcha Bunder area, truck owners and donkey carts have taken advantage of the situation by raising fares.
A Mazda truck driver demanded Rs12,000 to transport belongings from Katcha Bunder to Numaish Road, which is hardly three kilometres away. Suzuki van drivers, who usually charge Rs250 for the nearly five-kilometre distance between Sukkur and Rohri Railway Station, have jacked up rates to Rs1,000 and Rs1,500 to get from Old Sukkur to Rohri.
Landlords have also raisied the rent of small houses in other areas by almost 500%. A two-room house in New Pind and Numaish Road area is anywhere between Rs4,000 and Rs5,000 per month, while the monthly rent used to be Rs1,000 to Rs1,200.
Many of the displaced Katcha Bunder residents have chosen to live with their relatives in Rohri and Old Sukkur but those working in the city are looking for houses nearby. Over 80% of women in Katcha Bunder used to work as housemaids in nearby areas. Although the district government has compensated the residents, who have to vacate the area for repair and maintenance work on the Bunder Wall that protects Sukkur city from a flooding River Indus, they found it was hard to let go of their homes.
“Whether the house is legal or illegal, it is painful to leave the house you were born in,” regretted a 17-year-old Zulekha Mirani.
Zulekha was born and raised in Katcha Bunder. She remembered how they would be ordered to vacate the area every year during flood season. “Last year, we were forced to move to relief camps, because the whole area flooded but this time we have evacuated Katcha Bunder for good.” Zulekha’s family was moving in with her maternal uncle in Old Sukkur. They will plan out the future from there.
Mukhtiar Khatoon also had an emotional departure from her house as she caressed and kissed the walls of the house she stepped into 20 years ago, as a newly wed bride. Her husband, Shabbir, told The Express Tribune that his wife gave birth to their seven children in this house and two of his daughter’s wedding took place there. “We are going to buy a plot on Numaish Road to construct a katcha house. Until then, we will live with my brother’s family,” said Shabbir.
Mai Naseeba demolished her house with the help of her two sons. She cursed the government for forcing her to destroy what she had constructed with her late husband 30 years ago. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she said she was glad her husband was not alive to see this day. On the other hand, her sons, Yakoob and Hakim, were indifferent to the demolition. “We have received Rs400,000, which is enough to buy a plot and construct a small house,” said one of her sons.
Mumtaz Ali Mirani and his brothers were also busy taking down their two-storey house, made of girders and T-irons. “We are taking them out so that they can be reused because we spent Rs150,000 on them,” said Mumtaz.
The process of demolishing the house where Mumtaz and siblings were born was tough. “It’s painful to leave, not because we were born here but because our parents died in this house.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2011.
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