Thursday December 01, 2022

KDA seeks police help to reclaim 17,000 plots from land mafia

November 03, 2022

Everyone dreams of having their own house where they would live with their family and turn it into their home. But how cruel would it be if after acquiring a piece of land to fulfil your dream, you find someone else’s house there, someone else living your dream while you feel like you have lost everything — most of all, your biggest dream.

This is exactly what has been happening in Surjani Town, which has come to be known as heaven for land grabbers because the relevant authorities are apparently helpless against them.

Any action to kick out encroachers always seems to end up in humiliation for the officials, who have now decided to involve the police to help them recover the government-allotted land from those who have snatched it.

This story is not about grabbing one or two plots but about grabbing the land that comprises more than 17,000 residential plots in three different sectors of Surjani Town, namely sectors 10, 13 and 14.

The massive land grabbing shocked the allottees of these plots who had been running from pillar to post to fulfil their dreams, but they lost all hope after finding out that the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) itself was helpless before the powerful mafias, commonly known as the ‘system’. Gibran Ahmed is one of the allottees who is worried about his plots. He and his wife were allotted three plots — two measuring 84 square yards and one 64 square yards — through balloting in 1986 in Sector 13/3 of Surjani Town.

“We have been waiting for years to turn our dream of having our own house into reality. But when we thought our dream was close to coming true, land grabbers snatched our plots,” said Ahmed.

The land grabbers have also been threatening the affected people who have been visiting their plots or trying to get their houses constructed on their property. “Where should we go? What should we do? We paid all the dues to the KDA, but the KDA itself seems helpless.”

In a bid to retrieve the government-allotted land, the KDA’s additional director (land) for Surjani Town has written to the relevant authorities, including the West Zone DIG, the District West SSP and the KDA director general, seeking their help to reclaim the land from the mafias.

The News has obtained a copy of the letter, which reads that land grabbers have snatched more than 17,000 residential plots in sectors 10, 13 and 14 of Surjani Town. The letter states that according to the relevant staff’s report, during a visit to Scheme 41, Surjani Town, it was found that illegal house constructions were under way in different sectors of Scheme 41, especially in sectors 10, 13 and 14.

The official says land grabbers, land mafias and land encroachers are constructing illegal structures day and night, adding that after the completion of the illegal houses, land grabbers and their facilitators settle families there.

“This office is unable to carry out operations against such illegal constructions because these land grabbers and encroachers are criminals carrying the latest weapons and threatening the staff of this office.”

The letter reads that on two occasions, while the KDA staff was performing their official duties, including the removal of encroachments, they were brutally beaten up by the encroachers.

The official also mentions the details of the residential, commercial and amenity plots in the above-mentioned sectors according to the approved master plan. In Sector 10 the total number of residential plots is 5,872, commercial plots 36, amenity plots 99 and flat site plots 16.

In Sector 13 the total number of residential plots is 55,458, commercial plots 182, amenity plots 134 and flat site plots 22. In Sector 14 the total number of residential plots is 6,465, commercial plots 613, industrial plots 168, amenity plots 67 and flat site plots four.

The letter also names the alleged land grabbers and requests the necessary action against them as well as their facilitators in accordance with the law so that the KDA’s land can be reclaimed.

Since the system of grabbing government property in Karachi is active again and KDA officials appear helpless in reclaiming the land worth billions of rupees in the three sectors of Surjani Town, help has been sought from the police department.

DIG Fida Hussain Mastoi, who was recently posted as the West Zone police chief, told The News that the law enforcers will help the KDA in accordance with the law.

KDA Director for Anti-Encroachment and Land Management Jamil Baloch told The News that there are three to four notorious land grabbers who are involved in snatching government property.

“We have already filed our complaints with the relevant authorities a number of times and even lodged FIRs against the land grabbers but so far no action has been taken against them,” lamented Baloch. “Land grabbers are taking advantage of the lack of coordination between the authorities, while some government departments are also assisting them [the land grabbers],” he claimed.