SC orders restoration of lakes, parks

Karachi should fall under one authority instead of 17 mandated for different tasks


Nasir Butt November 25, 2021

KARACHI:

The Supreme Court has directed KDA to restore four lakes in PECHS, remove debris from KMC Sports Complex on Kashmir Road, take action against illegal constructions on government lands, open spaces, welfare plots, alongside Malir River and ordered restoration of all KDA parks and playgrounds.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin Ahmed, heard the petitions pertaining to illegal constructions on amenity plots, nullah lands and occupation of Karachi Development Authority (KDA) parks and playgrounds. Karachi Administrator Barrister Murtaza Wahab and other officials appeared in the court.

The CJP inquired from the Karachi administrator about the whereabouts of four lakes in Karachi. At this Wahab replied that a football ground was constructed at a place in the Jheel Park whereas plantation was done in another part of the park.

Amber Alibhai, general secretary of Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE), said that Pony Lake was destroyed. "A housing scheme has been set up on the lakes around Tariq Road in Ferozabad," Alibhai said.

Chief Justice remarked, "Where did the water of these lakes go?" Sindh Advocate General Salman Talib-ud-Din stated that the lakes had dried up due to depletion of water level.

The chief justice while giving remarks said that there was such a beautiful area around the Jheel Park and foreigners used to live there. "How will you restore the lakes of Karachi?" the CJP asked Murtaza Wahab. At this the KMC administrator said that he would be able to respond after seeking guidance from experts.

During the course of hearing, the CJP inquired about the Pakistan Engineer Cooperative Housing Society (PECHS) members. "Even today no one from the PECHS came forward," the judge remarked.

Wahab told the court that 25 highways were commercialised in 2003 following the commercialisation during the period of former mayor Mustafa Kamal. The chief justice remarked that the whole city is in chaos. Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked: "What is the solution?"

Wahab lamented that the Sindh High Court gave stay in several cases which was causing hurdles for the government.

"There should be parks on University Road. Whose job is it to take care of lights on Shahra-e-Faisal which now lies in complete darkness," the CJP asked.

Wahab said that Shahra-e-Faisal falls within the limits of cantonment board.

The CJP remarked that from Natha Khan onwards there is complete darkness. There are no lights on these poles but different flags are there which look bad, the CJP remarked.

Wahab told the court that he is trying but there are issues of cantonment areas. At this Amber Alibhai said that Karachi has 17 owners while Wahab has the control of 33 per cent of the city. "The problem will not be solved until Karachi comes under one umbrella," Alibhai said.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that this means that legislation is needed for Karachi.

"Let us summon all the officials of all the cantonment boards," the CJP remarked.

Justice Ahsan remarked that there should be a single authority to look after the parks of the entire city.

The court directed the KMC administrator to restore all the parks and playgrounds and remove all illegal constructions.

The parks and grounds, remarked by the court, should be restored and made safe and there should be no entry fee to the parks and playgrounds.

The court also asked the KMC administrator to ensure renovation and maintenance of parks including provision of required furniture and lights. The court directed the administrator to submit the progress report within two weeks.

On the petition seeking rehabilitation of gutter baghicha, Amber Alibhai said that the land for gutter baghicha has been allotted for KMC Officers Society.

The court remarked that the land of the gutter baghicha could only be used for welfare purposes. "How can a society be there?" the court remarked. The Supreme Court ordered to cancel the allotment of the society. The court also ordered KMC to take the possession of the land.

The court also sought report of KMC Society in Gulshan-e-Faisal, Bath Island.

On a petition regarding rehabilitation of New Karachi Playground, KDA DG said that sewage and garbage in the playground has been cleared. Tender has been issued for rehabilitation of the park.

The CJP directed the KDA DG to remove all illegal structures built on the park lands.

The CJP remarked that many buildings are being constructed on Korangi Industrial Area nullah.

"All these buildings will have to be demolished. Go and seal all these illegal buildings. What about buildings with Korangi Bridge?" the CJP remarked.

The KDA DG said that if you order, all the buildings around the nullah will be demolished. "I am working in very difficult conditions but I will continue to do so. I am not afraid of anyone. When I started working, retaliatory action was initiated against me," the DG said. "My wife is a grade 20 officer. She was sent home," he added.

At this, the CJP asked the advocate general in surprise: "What is happening?"

The KDA DG said: "When I approached the court, action was taken against me."

The court directed the DG to submit comprehensive reports. The court issued a major order against the buildings adjoining Jam Sadiq Ali Bridge in Korangi and ordered action against the buildings constructed on the Korangi Nullah.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2021.

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