Karachi Grammar School plans to petition SEPA

The petition is against the construction of ‘Noman Castello’ near the school’s junior and kindergarten section.

Mahnoor Sherazee September 29, 2010

KARACHI: Taking their battle to the next level, the Karachi Grammar School (KGS), supported by some parents and ex-students, plans to submit a petition to the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) by October 4 against the construction of ‘Noman Castello’ barely a 100 metres from the school’s junior and kindergarten section.

The 20-storey project proposed to be built on Plot F8, Block 5, Clifton is on the zone that was declared commercial in 2001.

However, in 2007, the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA) lodged a case against the construction of the project. In 2008, KGS joined its efforts, citing serious security concerns. Its reservations were specific to Plot F-8, i.e. Noman Castello.

KGS argued that its opinion was not sought when the decision was made to commercialise the block.

It therefore doubts whether all proper procedures were followed.

While speaking to The Express Tribune, KGS Principal Dr Graham C Platts said: “KGS is not against progress, in fact, we see ourselves as one of the most progressive institutions of the city. But progression needs to be controlled.”

Dr Platts said over the last 12 months the school’s administration has become very careful and more so after the attack on the International Islamic University in Islamabad.

“The government gave us specific instructions and guidelines which included raising our boundary walls, CCTV surveillance, razor wire on top the of the boundary walls and concrete blocks restricting close access to the building. All of which we complied with.”

Even with all security measures in place, as well as a more or less permanent armed police contingent, giving the campus a fort-like feel, KGS fears a 240-foot building will open up unrestricted access to the campus’ grounds.

Another meeting on a course of action was planned for 8:30 am on Wednesday. Leading the charge is parent and member of NGO Shehri, Amber Alibhai, along with other parents as well as former students.

A public hearing on the issue tackling the Environmental Impact Assessment report filed with Sepa, along with the builder’s side of the story will be held on October 14.

According to the SEPA spokesperson, Mujtaba Baig, the agency has not issued a NOC yet.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 29th, 2010.


Ms. Hummaa Ahmad | 11 years ago | Reply For those readers who may not be aware, right next to Junior KGS is a plot of land (which used to have somewhere near it a board reading Hippodrome a few years back) which seems to have been subsequently acquired by some developers. The plot is fairly large and due to rapid commercialisation along the road from Boat Basin toward Bar BQ Tonite, previously "residential" homes have been declared commerical property. At no stage were any residents or affectees in this area ever consulted despite being tax payers and ratepayers who own residential home here. Behind this disputed lot is a "designated" park which is an extension of Auntie Park (it was in the original layout plans of the area in the shap of a L) and was to have been beautified these past 20 years accordingly but was not. People have been eyeing it, even during the last regime wanting to give it to the Americans to make their Consulate here, and hence that too must be protected if the homes surrounding it and across from it are to retain their "posh" locality status. Meanwhile both KGS school were relocated but have not impacted on the residential quality of the area. The developers intend to turn this lot, bang next door to where little ones go to Jun KGS into a 22 floor building facing the Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Park that was fixed up not so long ago. Behind this area is - Kehkashan - which extends from the 2 KGS towards the Convent of Jesus & Mary and all of which is residential. While houses in this location are being converted into offices and other businesses, for those who have homes here find it a total disruption to their domestic quality of life with the value of their homes rapidly diminishing with this multi-bazaar process. Meanwhile imagine what is involved in terms of pollution, construction processes, noise, disruption with earth diggers and shifting of earth and what effect it would have on very young children? More the case is that the locality was not designed for such buildings in terms of civic amenities, sewerage disposal, power supply etc as this area was for only homes like in the area of Defence. The law must be applied to stop this wretched encroachment by stealth which lowers the tone of the area, ruins domestic peace and encourages other elements, hawkers, general public and one might as well be living in Saddar with the whole gamut of commercial activity. For those of us who live virtually around the corner this matter is very serious indeed and our lifestyle quality as there is no way our lives will remain peaceful and without issues as this building is constructed. Mideast Hospital was destroyed and the replacing structure has taken almost 4 years in the making. Furthermore this area houses many foreign consulates and such a building with its height it a huge security hazard. It would give a panoramic view of the surrounding area with clear overview of the British Dept High Commission grounds, the new US complex on the corner of Mai Kolachi and the whole of Keamari. Kotari Parade and other landmarks would be easily accessed from such a height. Any terrorist activity will be facilitated with the help of a rocket propelled gun (RPG) - please note Corp Commander sahib, and, hence is a bonus security hazard for all those living in this area. Who did the impact assessment, who allowed this decision and especially where there are residences right besides plus parks for this area, it remains a ludicrous decision and one opposed by many. There was no consultation process or any kind of public notification and what is the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA), Clifton Development/Cantonment got to say on the matter is rather sketchy at present. Parents, residents of this area and those who wish to preserve whatever green and exclusive areas the remain in Karachi should join this march to make a difference.
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