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KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Sindh government and Railways to remove all encroachments, including all multi-storeyed buildings that come in the way of Karachi Circular Railways, and ordered to revive the KCR.
Hearing petitions against illegal encroachments on public parks, amenity lands, revival of Karachi Circular Railways and unauthorized multi-storeyed buildings in Karachi, the SC’s three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed inquired from advocate general Sindh as to what progress has been made in compliance of Karachi Circular Railways order. The advocate general submitted that the KCR project was included in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor framework and the matter was pending with the federal government over the loan issue as the provincial government could not deal the loan issue with the Chinese government.
The court took an exception over non-compliance of the court directives with regard to revival of the KCR and observed that the Sindh government did nothing for the revival of KCR but entangled the issue with CPEC, which will take several years.
The court inquired from secretary railways as to why encroachments on the railways land had not been removed despite the court directives. He submitted that right of way has been given to the provincial government and the entire land of the railways has been transferred to the Sindh government. He also sought time to submit details of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting decision in which the land of Railways and KCR project were given to the Sindh government in 2018.
The court also took an exception over the delay in removal of encroachments and said that secretary railways should act like secretary instead of working as Munshi and he should go home if he could not serve the people with responsibility. The court observed that it will not accept any excuse of delay in the revival of KCR project and contempt notice to be issued to chief minister Sindh and secretary railways for non-compliance of the court directives that were issued on May 9. The court observed that several unauthorized buildings were still constructed near Hasan Square area on railways land and the same should be removed.
The court directed the Sindh government and railways to revive the KCR and remove all unauthorized buildings which come in the way of KCR and submit compliance report within two weeks. The court directed that all railways land for the KCR be removed from encroachments and the Gilani station at Gulshan-e-Iqbal be restored at its original position.
The court took an exception over lack of financial and administrative devolution control to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and inquired from the advocate general Sindh as to why Article 140 A of the Constitution was not being implemented in letter and spirit.
The court warned the Sindh government that it could face high treason charges under Article 6 of the Constitution if political, administrative and financial responsibilities and authority were not devolved to the elected representatives of the local governments under Article 140 A of the Constitution in its letter and spirit.
Mayor Karachi Waseem Akhtar submitted that the Sindh chief minister held a meeting with him over devolution of power issues but no reply was given on his recommendations. He said that KMC are given Rs7 billion for the purpose of salaries and pension while the remaining 2.5 billion were given to run the 35 departments with 13,000 employees.
Secretary Local Government Roshan Ali Sheikh submitted that all the local governments in the province were allowed to collect taxes under the Sindh Local Government Act. The court inquired from the secretary local bodies as what tax collecting departments were given to the KMC. Sheikh submitted that KMC was allowed to collect slaughter animals charges, charged parking fees, conservancy and utilities charges and other local taxes. Justice Sajjad Ali Shah inquired as to why conversion charges were not devolved to the KMC where millions of rupees were collected in one day.
The chief justice inquired from the secretary local government as to why the provincial government did not scrap the local governments system when they were not supposed to do any work but distributing salaries to its employees. The court inquired from mayor Karachi as to why he decided to contest the local bodies election when he knew that no financial or administrative powers were given to the local governments.
The mayor Karachi submitted that the Sindh government took all powers after the promulgation of the law and his party had challenged such non-implementation of the Article 140-A before the Supreme Court, which was still pending in the court.
Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that citizens wanted work not your stories and pointed out the dilapidated conditions of roads in Lyari, Nazimabad, Pak Colony and other parts of the city.
The court observed that Karachi was once the jewel of the country but governments had destroyed the image of the city by allowing encroachments on amenity lands, including parks, graveyards and greenbelts. The court observed that there was on all roads, katcha or pacca, dirt, filth, heaps of garbage, sewerage water, defaced walls with incomplete and unpainted ghostly haunted structures, ruined buildings in state of imminent collapse, stray dogs menace, no fumigation to rid from dangerous life threatening germs and mosquitoes.
The court took an exception over the performance of Sindh Building Control Authority for allowing unauthorized construction at Shahra-e-Faisal in the Sindhi Muslim Society area and directed the chief minister Sindh to remove the director general SBCA from his post. The court observed that it has been generally complained that the SBCA officials were allowing multi-storeyed buildings in violation of the law and receiving illegal gratifications on such illegal constructions.
The court observed that the SBCA has become totally superfluous and become a cause of damage in the city of Karachi. The court observed that the SBCA officials were involved in allowing permission for unauthorized construction for their personal gains and from the top to bottom the entire SBCA compromised its position and made a total disaster to the city.
The court observed that there were thousands of buildings in the city which apparently were constructed illegally due to the negligence of the SBCA employees who obtained bribes for construction of such buildings.
The court observed that other government functionaries were providing protection to illegal activities while the director general SBCA appears to be a rubber stamp and he did not take action as per the SBCA Ordinance.
The court observed that in such situation, it was the right time that the chief minister should look into the matter for overhauling the SBCA. The court observed that the CM as the first step should replace top officials of the SBCA, including DG SBCA, and replace them by appointing honest and competent persons. The court observed that no exploitation for the people of Karachi shall be allowed by the officials of SBCA. The court directed chief secretary to take over the affairs of SBCA and ensure running of the authority as per the law.
The court directed the CS to submit details of all approval of multi-storeyed buildings above from ground plus 2 in Karachi, which was approved by the SBCA last year and submit report within two weeks. The court directed the CS to take action against director SBCA Mushtaq Soomro who wanted to provide documents in favour of construction of the building situated at an amenity land in the Boat Basin area.
The court also directed the KDA to remove the petrol pump situated at Shahra-e-Quaideen which was built at the green belt and directed advocate general Sindh to file an application before the SHC for vacating the stay order and decide the litigation.
Regarding unauthorized constructions at Kidney Hill and Hill Park areas, the court was informed that encroachments have been removed from Kidney Hill area and a park is to be developed on 55 acres of land. A Shehri representative pointed out that 7.5 acres have not been vacated yet and some residential areas and private school still existed in the area. The court directed the mayor Karachi to remove all encroachments from the remaining 7.5 acres and submit the compliance report. The court directed mayor Karachi to remove all unauthorized constructions from the surroundings of Hill Park area which was still being occupied by the habitants. The court directed the mayor to restore the Hill Park and remove the encroachments in the surroundings of the park.
The court directed mayor Karachi to remove the debris of unauthorized construction from Bagh Ibne Qasim if the owner did not come to remove it and amount of the debris lifting shall be recovered either by the owner or by auctioning the debris.
The court also declared the lease by Sindh government’s Board of Revenue department to the UAE-based national a piece of land situated near the Aladin Park as illegal. The court directed the Karachi Development Authority to demolish the construction of multi-storeyed building adjacent to Aladin Park in Gulshan-e-Iqbal area. The court also issued notices to other private owners of the adjacent land to file their reply on the allotment of the land and stayed the construction on such premises, if any, and directed commissioner Karachi to take over the premises till further orders.
Regarding the execution of Green Line Bus project by the Karachi Infrastructure Development Company, the court was informed by the chief executive officer of the KIDC that the Green Line project has been completed. However, the extended work from Numaish to Jama Cloth market area has been given to the company, which will be completed by end of February 2021 and transport will be functioning at the project in February/March 2021.
The court ordered that no amenity land meant for parks and other public spaces will be allowed to be utilized for the Green Line project and company shall acquire land by making separate arrangements provided under the relevant laws.
Regarding the fate of 40-year-old under-construction building near PIDC which was going to be used for the purpose of commodity exchange, the court directed commissioner Karachi to submit a report about strengthening of the structure with the assistance of expert engineers. The court also issued a notice to attorney general of Pakistan to assist the court about the ownership of the land, which was once leased to railways for its station purposes.
The court observed that the federal and provincial governments should make legislation about such under-construction buildings which were lying unattended and if the building is not habitable for many years, then it should not be allowed to be habited as life of people will be in serious danger.
The court directed the Civil Aviation Authority to construct a model park at open land near the Jinnah International Airport and piece of land situated at ST-21 at Clifton Block 1, Kehkashan area. The court directed director general KDA and commissioner Karachi to vacate all encroachments from amenity land of ST-21 situated in Clifton Block 1 area and cancel all allotments, if made on amenity land of ST-21.
The court issued notice to private builder Akhlaq Memon, owner of a multi-storyed building in the Boat Basin area, to explain his possession of the land which was meant for amenity purposes. The court directed the commissioner Karachi to develop a park at the YMCA Ground and remove walls at Muslim Gymkhana.