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.