The Sindh High Court has ordered the removal of shops under the Shaheed-e-Millat flyover within one month and asked the city administration to consider building a park there.
Justices Sajjad Ali Shah and Aqeel Ahmed Abbasi directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to remove all encroachments allegedly built by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) below the flyover.
The petitioner, Abdul Ghafoor Khan, had alleged that the defence ministry had asked the PAF to construct the flyover on its land and also allotted it 1,200 square feet of alternate land. However, the air force authorities occupied the land under the flyover illegally and even sold it out as shops.
Citing the defence ministry, PAF base commander, military estate officer, city nazim (now administrator) and KMC (formerly City District Government Karachi) as respondents, Khan appealed to the court to order the demolition of encroachments.
The bench had earlier reserved the judgment, which was announced on Tuesday. The KMC was ordered to remove all encroachments and submit the compliance report with the court. The court referred to a similar flyover built in Rawalpindi and stated that the KMC should consider making a public park under the flyover.
The KMC had claimed that the space beneath the flyover, commonly known as the Baloch Colony flyover, was encroached but the PAF insisted that the land was theirs. “We gave all the documents to prove [the land ownership] in the court and won the case,” said KMC’s legal adviser Azra Muqeem. She said that a CNG station, car park and other commercial structures would now be bulldozed. “I have been told that the court has asked us to build a park there, but I haven’t seen the detailed judgement so I cannot comment on it,” she added.
The KMC has filed similar cases before, as vacant spaces below flyovers remain the easiest target of encroachers. The authorities are trying to deal with the illegal occupation of space below the flyovers. The newly constructed Banaras Flyover has already become a hub for unlawful commercial activities underneath it.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2012.