Thursday June 20, 2024

SHC seeks KMC’s compliance report on demolition of shops at Askari Park

By Jamal Khurshid
April 18, 2024
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation building. — X/@emnpk/File
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation building. — X/@emnpk/File

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), the municipality’s parks director general and others to file comments on a petition against their failure to demolish 88 shops at the Askari Park and their allotment to third parties for commercial purposes.

The direction came on a petition of a local non-governmental organisation that had approached the high court against the non-implementation of orders of the Supreme Court that directed the army authorities to hand over the possession of the Askari Park situated in the Old Sabzi Mandi area to the KMC and demolish the commercial shops there.

The petitioner’s counsel said that 27,000 plants of 164 varieties had been planted in the park in August 2005, but the park was later illegally converted for carrying out commercial activities as a market and marriage halls were constructed there.

He said the park wore a deserted look, and only paid rides were available there. He added that the park was being run for commercial activities in utter disregard and gross violation of the adoption agreement between the city government and the Headquarters Engineering V Corps. The counsel said that on December 27, 2021, the apex court had directed the army authorities to hand over the Askari Park to the KMC and remove all the 88 shops.

He said the KMC authorities had been directed to restore the park to be used by the public, but the 88 shops had neither been handed over to the KMC nor demolished. On the contrary, the shops had been allotted to third parties for carrying out commercial activities, he alleged.

He also said that the KMC’s land director had been informed about the apex court’s decision with regard to the demolition of the shops, but the KMC authorities had failed to implement the same in letter and spirit.

The petitioner also sought appointment of the SHC’s Nazir to inspect the site and stop the commercial use of the shops. A counsel for the KMC submitted that the park was handed over to KMC after the Supreme Court’s judgment and 88 shops were already constructed on the park. He said that some shops were lying vacant on the park. The court inquired as why the order of the court was not complied with by the anti-encroachment department.

A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Mohammad Faisal Kamal Alam directed the KMC’s counsel to submit a compliance report on the next hearing.