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February 12, 2020

Gulshan-e-Iqbal building razed as KCR anti-encroachment drive begins


February 12, 2020

An under-construction building was demolished on the first day of an anti-encroachment operation to clear the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) track in Gulshan-e-Iqbal on Tuesday near the Gilani Station of the local train service train discontinued over two decades ago.

On February 7, the Supreme Court had directed the Sindh government and the Pakistan Railways to remove all encroachments, including all multi-storeyed buildings located in the way of the KCR, and also ordered reviving the train service.

Hearing petitions against illegal encroachments on public parks, amenity lands, the revival of the Karachi Circular Railways and unauthorised multi-storey buildings in Karachi, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed had inquired from the advocate general of Sindh what progress had been made in complying with an order for reviving the KCR.

The advocate general had submitted that the KCR project was included in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor framework and the matter was pending with the federal government over a loan issue as the provincial government could not take up the loan issue with the Chinese government.

The apex court had taken exception to non-compliance with its directives with regard to the revival of the KCR, and observed that the Sindh government did nothing for the revival of the train service.

During the operation on Tuesday, the police faced resistance from residents living in and around the KCR track. In the 13-D area of Gulshan-e- Iqbal, an under construction three-floor building over a 600-square- yard plot was razed to the ground.

Those who had already booked their apartments in the building resisted the operation and pelted stones at the police. The protesters were of the opinion that they had invested their lifelong earnings in the residential project and now the government was demolishing it.

The deputy director land of the Pakistan Railways, Khalid Javed, who was present during the operation, said that those buildings which were still occupied by residents would be demolished by the Sindh government.

According to officials of the Pakistan Railway, there was 81 acres of land that belongs to the railways along the track.

‘Rehabilitate the affected’

Holding all government bodies responsible for allowing illegal encroachments in the metropolis, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) requested the apex court to issue orders to the federal and Sindh governments to provide alternative arrangements to people affected by anti-encroachment drives.

MQM-P parliamentary leader Kunwar Naveed Jameel said that the provincial government should take immediate action against government officers for allegedly allowing and helping the land grabbers in encroaching upon state land after receiving bribes from them.

He said this while talking to the media outside the Sindh Assembly. MQM-P lawmakers Khawaja Izharul Hassan, Muhamamd Hussain Khan and Mangla Sharma, and others were also present on the occasion.

“It is important to punish people who are responsible for allowing illegal encroachments on land. They [government officers] became billionaires with that money and have settled abroad,” Jameel said.

He said that people had invested the savings of their entire lives in their homes. He requested the chief justice of Pakistan to issue orders to the federal and provincial governments for an alternative arrangement for people who had been affected by the ongoing anti-encroachment operation in the city.

He also requested the apex court to issue a direction for taking legal action against all political personalities and government officers who allegedly provided patronage to the land grabbers in Karachi.

The MQM-P leader also asked the PPP leaders to act upon the party’s manifesto of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ (food, clothing and shelter) and provide the affected peope with alternative land. He said the land mafia was occupying the land of the KMC in various parts of the city, and demanded of the police and Rangers officials to save the land from illegal encroachments.

Jameel also demanded delegating back powers and authority to the mayor to ensure the return of the illegally encroached KMC lands.