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October 18, 2015

Businessmen affected by motorway project to block Super Highway today


October 18, 2015

Local people, led by businessmen, are staging a sit-in today (Sunday) on the Karachi-Hyderabad Super Highway against its fenced-off upgrade, which, they say, will hurt their livelihood.
“We will organise a sit-in at Kathore Morr -- 50 kilometres from the main city -- against the upgrade of the four-lane Super Highway into a six-lane motorway for an indefinite period,” said Shabbir Sulemanjee, chairman of the All Pakistan CNG Association, addressing a press conference on Saturday.
Sulemanjee is representing the Super Highway Affectees Committee comprising owners of petrol pumps and hotels and local residents living and running their businesses along the 136-kilometre road connecting Karachi and Hyderabad.
The proposed M-9 motorway will need 670-foot of right of way (RoW) on the left- and right-side of the highway.
He said the federal government’s National Highway Authority (NHA) issued notices to a number of residents and businessmen situated along the Super Highway to get the required lands for the project.
“We are told that the authority has acquired some of the lands from the Sindh Board of Revenue,” Sulemanjee said on the sidelines.
“No procedure defined by the Land Acquisition Act 1894 is being followed.”
He said fencing on both the sides would cause massive losses to the investors, who recently got their lands commercialised by the Sindh government.
Sulemanjee said there were around 120 petrol stations on the highway, which invested Rs120 billion.
The affected businessmen urged the government to shift Karachi’s toll plaza on the highway beyond Kathore in the new project -- a village which is densely populated.
A resident said their businesses after moving from one side to the other would be affected after the building of the fences.
The committee’s spokesperson said the project would leave thousands of people jobless in the outskirts of the city.
He said there was no clarity on

compensation amount. The Sindh government said the federal contractor would defray the compensation claims, he said.
“We were told to evacuate our land on the highway and buy a tract behind our business spot.”
Later, the Super Highway Affectees Committee held a protest demonstration outside the press club, chanting slogans against the motorway and in favour of the expressway.
They demanded of the government to convert the M-9 into a fence-free project, protect their livelihood and save the future of dwellers of shanty towns.
“Until our demands are met, we’ll continue to hold protests,” said an affected businessman.
They said the motorway was being built on uninhabited land. “The NHA planned motorway construction from Hyderabad to Lahore and Sadiqabad to Lahore through acquisition of barren lands,” said a committee’s press statement.
The Karachi-Hyderabad motorway project has been lingering for over two decades as the businessmen and residents of the old informal settlements are against its expansion.
In April, the Sindh High Court sought comments from federal and provincial authorities on the petitions filed by over 550 affected people.
Advocate Shahab Usto, representing the petitioners, told The News that the court had received comments from some of the respondents and “another hearing is expected next month”.
The NHA gave the contract of the proposed M9 project to the Frontier Works Organisation.

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