SHC orders survey of all natural water sources and drains in Karachi

By Jamal Khurshid
May 19, 2024
The Sindh High Court (SHC) building in Karachi. — Facebook/ The High Court of Sindh, Karachi/File

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has taken exception to lack of a complete survey record encompassing waterfalls and all natural resources of water, including drains, and directed the local government department to review the complete records, including deh maps, and conduct a survey, if one has not already been completed, of the water resources in the entire Karachi region after taking all stakeholders on board.


The direction came on a petition of the Anjuman-e-Ilm-o-Adab against non-issuance of the no objection certificate (NOC) for a building project by the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).

The SBCA took the stance that there was a nullah that existed on the plot in question. The high court had earlier ordered an inquiry by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) that asserted that no such nullah was present and it was incumbent upon the SBCA to furnish explanation for their objection.

A counsel for the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) submitted that a comprehensive survey encompassing waterfalls and all natural sources of water, including drainage, may not have been conducted.

He submitted that the initial jurisdiction over carrying out such a survey belonged to the KMC which was subsequently shared with the Malir Development Authority (MDA) operating under its aegis and now the MDA as an autonomous entity.

A division bench of the high court headed by Justice Salahuddin Panhwar observed that the high court has already stipulated that all relevant departments should collaborate under a unified framework to share information and maintain record by verifying the data from various institutions and authorities.

The SHC observed that judicial propriety necessitated that the additional chief secretary of the local government department ensured the participation of all stakeholders within the Karachi division for the survey purpose.

The high court directed the local government additional chief secretary to review the complete record, including deh maps, and conduct a survey, if one had not already been completed, of the entire Karachi region or in segments pertaining to the aforementioned subjects.

The bench directed that the findings of the survey would be submitted before the court within three months.

The high court observed that if it was discovered that a survey had already been conducted, it must be examined in its entirety across the Karachi region.

The SHC observed that it was understood that any development scheme would not disrupt or obstruct natural water sources, including drainage, and such schemes must be authorised only after a thorough verification of the survey findings.

The bench observed that in the event of non-compliance by any official, wherein a scheme was approved that flagrantly contradicted the meticulously conducted survey report, the delinquent officer shall be promptly apprehended, taken into task, and held unequivocally liable for transgressions under the Pakistan Penal Code.

The high court ordered that the direction of the court be promptly conveyed to the Sindh chief secretary for its adherence.

The bench observed that such a direction shall also be communicated to the MDA managing director, mayor of the KMC, directors general of the KDA, Lyari Development Authority, Katchi Abadi Authority and Sindh Gothabad Housing Scheme and all the cantonment boards within the jurisdiction.

The high court observed that the chief secretary was entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the full execution of the mandate. The court also issued notice to the Sindh advocate general to ensure compliance with the order within the stipulated time.