Demand to save amenity plots from encroachers

KARACHI: Amenity plots, especially parks and playgrounds, in Karachi are being encroached by land mafia and converted into residential plots, illegally; however, the government has yet to take serious steps to save a few left amenity plots of this recreationstarved city, said Naib Amir JamaateIslami JI Pakistan Asdallah Bhutto exMNA, Muhammad Yunus Barai, exMPA, vice president JI district East and extown nazim of GulshaneIqbal town.

Addressing a crowded press conference at Karachi Press Club, here Wednesday, they said the civic rights groups and courts are trying their best to save the amenity lands in Karachi; however, the local politics is bent to defeat the law.

Quoting an example of a public park at amenity plot, ST32 Block15, Gulistane Johar, they said at the time of town planning of GulistaneJohar, the amenity plot ST32 in Block 15, spread over an area of 11266 yards, was earmarked and developed as a park & playground in April 1984 and since then not only used as a park and playground but also as an Eidgah.

They said due to its deteriorating condition, a redevelopment was approved by the Administrator KMC in the District Development Working Party DDP meeting held on 07042012 at a cost of Rs19.95million. In this connection the Director General, Parks & Horticulture issued a work order DG/P&H/KMC/D&T/201/ 2012, dated 11072012 to M/S Iqbal Husain, who signed the undertaking to complete the job within stipulated time.

They said after completing the above formalities the development work at the site was started and was in progress, but shortly in July some land grabbers attacked the site and stopped construction work. They also demolished the construction 25% already completed. Facing this threat, Additional Director P&H informed the relevant police authority to register a complaint against the obstructers and also requested to provide police security to the workers but police did not take any action. The relevant authorities also took no action to get vacated the site and restart the stopped work. Mean while a handsome amount Rs5million was issued on 1st October 2012 as a part payment to the contractor.

The JI leaders said, later, on October 2nd 2012 the residents of the area were surprised to notice that several armed men were demarcating like “China Cutting” for residential plots at the site. On approach they informed that residential plots of 80 square yards will be allotted here at this plot. Facing this insecure situation the residents approached Deputy Commissioner East to provide security and get vacated the park from the encroachers. The DC East directed the Commandant Bhitai Rangers and Senior Superintendent of Police Karachi East and other relevant offices for action against encroachers, but, unfortunately, no action was taken from any side.

They added that on night between 18th & 19th December 2012 the encroachers brought a bulk of construction material and collected laborers and masons, who with the support of the area police quickly built a 6foot high boundary wall around a major part of the land, nearly 80%, and the very next day white washed it and erected a heavy gate at roadside. They said now the work of plotting, developing and selling of plots on the amenity land is under way.

The JI leaders said this is an opne violation of Supreme Court’s order of 18th January, 2011 in which Karachi District Government was ordered to remove all encroachments from amenity plots in the city. They said the Sindh High Court in Judgment Order dated December 27, 2003 has already ruled that “status of amenity plot cannot be changed”. They added on April 1, 2006 division bench of the honourable Court ruled that “commercial use of amenity plot cannot be used for any other purpose.” Further, in 1994 Sindh Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution that an amenity plot earmarked for any specific purpose shall be used for the same. Gazette Notification, dated 04101994, A11.

The JI leaders said that having no other remedy available, the area residents, led by Yunus Barai, the former Sindh Provincial Assembly Member, through Advocate Syed Abdul Waheed, approached the SHC and filed a Constitutional Petition No. D423/2013, which was fixed before the Honourable Chief Justice Mr. Musheer Alam and Justice Sadiq Husain Bhatti on 8th February 2013. The Court, referring Supreme Court’s and Sindh High Court’s above orders and decision, passed stay order with direction to allow the contractor to raise construction accordingly and ordered respondents Chief Secretary, Govt. of Sindh; Commissioner Karachi; Dy. Commissioner East; Administrator Karachi; Chief Officer, KMC; Director, Park & Horticulture; Director, Land Management; Senior Director Estate Enforcement, KMC; DIG, East; SSP of Police, East; SHO, Gulistane Jaohar to comply the order and file their reports within two weeks.

They appealed to all related authorities to ensure that all amenity plots of Karachi including Gulistan Johar park are saved from the encroachers so the rights of the citizens could be protected and they are give the facility of healthy recreational activities in their respective localities.

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