Residents displaced by circular railway should be settled where they prefer: Arif Hasan

People displaced must be relocated closer to their livelihoods.


June 12, 2013
Hassan shed light on the plight of those affected by the Lyari Expressway’s construction.

KARACHI: People who will be displaced because of the construction of Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) must be resettled near their workplaces, close to their children’s schools and in proximity of their relatives’ houses instead of being offered 80-yard plots with Rs50,000  far away from their livelihoods, suggested urban planner and architect, Arif Hasssan.

He was speaking at the inaugural session of the Perween Rahman lecture series at the T2F on Tuesday night. The lecture, ‘Housing situation in Karachi and its repercussions’, discussed the horizontal expansion of the city and how the unplanned growth has affected the lifestyle of its citizens over the years.

Hassan shed light on the plight of those affected by the Lyari Expressway’s construction who were relocated to the city’s suburbs on 80-yard plots. They became financially unstable as their workplaces were less accessible because of the hike in transportation costs, he said. People actually preferred to move into katchi abadis rather than shift to the suburbs because of the transport costs. “Children of these families could not continue their education and around 800 students who were to appear for their matriculation exams failed to do so because they were too far away,” he added.



When asked why these people couldn’t be resettled on nearby vacant government-owned lands, the state responded that the land was too expensive for them and their settlement on these lands would lower the property prices in the adjoining areas, said Hassan.

The booming population density was creating problems in maintaining law and order in the city - with most of the developments contributing to the increasing ethnic divide among the population.

Hassan observed that the housing issues started at the time of partition when around 600,000 people were relocated in Karachi making it a multi-ethnic city. To accommodate these people, various plans were launched such as the one during General Ayub Khan’s tenure when it was decided to displace the people from the centre of the city to areas, such as Landhi, Korangi and New Karachi.

According to him, that period laid the foundations for the ethnic divide in the city as the government failed to fulfill its promises with the people.

The first Pakistan Peoples Party government started regularization of the Katchi Abadis through Malkana Huqooq Programme (ownership rights). In retrospect, he added, the katchi abadis have grown faster while their regularisation process has been relatively slow.

The architect was of the view that the small sizes of homes in these Katchi Abadis were a source of displeasure among their inhabitants who had to share their living space with multiple residents. “On average, there are seven people sharing a room and they also have to make do with a single kitchen and toilet. People in these localities are actually happy when a single family member stays out for the night,” he said.

He also spoke of the latest trend in construction where people with single-storey structures were building multiple levels on top of the houses to rent out the additional flats to tenants. These vertical constructions were a cause of torment to the tenants who could be evacuated by the owner at a moment’s notice. “There are people who have changed 4 to 5 houses in a year,” he said.

Community architect, Sirajuddin, Perween Rahman’s student, Mir Raza Ali and her elder sister, Aquila Ismail, also spoke at the occasion and shared their memories and experiences with her while poet, Azra Abbas, recited her poem on Parween Rahman.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2013.

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COMMENTS (4)

Ailya khan | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend

@Karachiwala:

Mr. Karachiwala, I really respect your point of view about these informal settlements "ill-legally" (as you have spelled) occupying land. But we need to understand these people have been here for over decades. This should have been taken care of by the government as soon as they felt that land is being bought from the land mafia. The time for this definitely not now in 2013. We are talking of over 4000 families getting read to be homeless or jobless too. Let me tell you sir that these people have NOCs by our own government, which has allowed them to stay and own land. Informal settlements of one of the worlds largest cannot be just bulldozed over. The second ones to suffer will be the citizens too, who are dependent on people from these areas for even pitching them-selves a glass of water. As you have spoken of the vicious cycle. How about try to put a halt to this cycle to where it is. At no loss- no gain grounds and make strategies of how not to increase these informal sprawls further by providing low-income housing societies.

Ailya khan | 7 years ago | Reply | Recommend

@Karachiwala:

Mr. Karachiwala, I really respect your point of view about these informal settlements "ill-legally" (as you have spelled) occupying land. But we need to understand these people have been here for over decades. This should have been taken care of by the government as soon as they felt that land is being bought from the land mafia. The time for this effeminately not now in 2013. We are talking of over 4000 families getting read to be homeless or jobless too. Let me tell you sir that these people have NOCs by our own government, which has allowed them to stay and own land. Informal settlements of one of the worlds largest cannot be just bulldozed over. The second ones to suffer will be the citizens too, who are dependent on people from these areas for even pitching them-selves a glass of water. As you have spoken of the vicious cycle. How about try to put a halt to this cycle to where it is. At no loss- no gain grounds and make strategies of how not to increase these informal sprawls further by providing low-income housing societies.

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