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December 9, 2018

Karachi’s anti-encroachment drive is ill-conceived: experts


December 9, 2018

Human, social and economic aspects of the ongoing anti-encroachment drive in Karachi were also discussed in detail at the first ThinkFest at the City Campus of the Institute of Business Administration on Saturday.

Speakers at a session titled ‘Contemporary Urban Challenges’ said the Supreme Court’s orders had not been properly translated and traders and shopkeepers had been forcibly evicted without any alternative plan and prior notice.

Nida Kirmani, a noted academic, moderated the session while Marvi Mazhar, an architect and heritage consultant, Fizza Sajjad, a researcher associated with the Center for Economic Research in Pakistan, and Ali Arqam, a local journalist, were panelists.

Mazhar, who also founded Pakistan Chowk Community Center, Karachi, said a massive anti-encroachment drive had been going in Karachi in the names of ‘beautification of the city’, ‘anti-encroachment drive’ and ‘smart neighborhoods’, but without proper mapping and surveying.

“Karachi does not have any statistics or survey about the informal sector of the city,” she said, adding that there was no coordination among various layers -- such as district, city and province -- of the government.

Mazhar said that in the entire province, the anti-encroachment drive had been going on for the past few months. “But one can hear a hue and cry only in Karachi because of the presence of a vibrant civil society here.”

She also said shopkeepers and hawkers had not been given sufficient time during the campaign.

Sajjad, a researcher specialising in the politics of land, housing and transport in Urban Pakistan, said that in the past two decades, the number of cities with a population of 1 million in Pakistan had been increased from seven to 10 with a growth rate of 5o per cent. She said cities had been sprawling and also experiencing densifications.

She remarked that class-based inequality in the development projects had also been clearly seen.

Arqam, a journalist, discussed various aspects of the anti-encroachment drive and said and residents of Karachi mostly faced catastrophes, such as forced evictions and ethnic violence.

He said internal migration and relocations in the city had occurred at great level mainly because of ethnic violence, emergence of middle-class and other reasons.

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