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KMC begins demolition of leased houses along Gujjar and Orangi drains

The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s (KMC) anti-encroachment department has started demolitions of leased houses and commercial units surrounding Karachi’s mighty Gujjar Nullah.

The Gujjar Nullah is a natural drain in the city that starts flowing from New Karachi and ends at the Chuna Depot in Haju Mureed Goth, Teen Hatti, where it falls into the Lyari River. The original length of the nullah was 13 kilometres and it was 210 feet wide. In a massive anti-encroachment operation planned at Gujjar Nullah in the District Central on Monday, the corporation started demolitions of proper houses at three different points.

The KMC has already written a letter for the demolitions of leased houses to the Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority, Karachi Development Authority, director revenue of Karachi, Pakistan Railways and MD SITE Manghopir Road. The subject of the letter was ‘cancellation of leases of plots coming in the alignment of Gujjar Nullah Project and Orangi Nullah Project and other nullahs in the city.’

According to the letter, in pursuance of a Supreme Court order and decision taken in the Provincial Coordination and Implementation Committee (PCIC), the KMC’s anti-encroachment department was removing all sorts of soft and hard encroachments coming in the alignment of the Gujjar and Orangi drains.

“But some leased-out plots coming in the alignment of said nullahs are causing hurdles in swift anti-encroachment operation and as such they are required to be cancelled,” the letter read. The KMC requested the aforementioned departments to cancel such leases for smooth working of the projects.

A similar letter has been written by the District Central deputy commissioner to various municipal and law enforcement agencies. To accelerate the pace of work, the anti-encroachment drive continued on Monday simultaneously at three different sections of the Gujjar Nullah – Shafiq Mor to Landi Kotal Section, Landi Kotal to Liaquatabad Bridge near the District Municipal Corporation Central (DMC) Central office and from the bridge towards Lyari River Section. The assistant commissioners and mukhtiarkars of different towns supervised the operations.

The KMC metropolitan commissioner has been requested to provide necessary machinery and manpower for the operation.

The focal persons have been directed to ensure coordination among all lone departments as well as law enforcement agencies for effective conduct of operation. Representatives of all the civic agencies were already directed to contact the focal persons of their respective section and remain present on the site of the operation.

The KMC, so far, has removed soft encroachments on either side of the 12.8km-long Gujjar Nullah. Concrete structures on both sides of a 2.5km strip of the drain too, according to Siddiqui, have been removed.

The cleared area of the Gujjar Nullah will be handed over to the Frontier Works Organisation on Wednesday to initiate the construction of a road. As for the remaining 10.3km, he said it would be cleared before the monsoon season.

According to Siddiqui, the massive operation at the Gujjar Nullah took place at three different points on Monday. Heavy contingent of police and law enforcement agencies, including the Rangers, cordoned off the area. Only already marked houses and commercial units were destroyed in the operation, he maintained.

Meanwhile, along the Orangi Nullah, commercial units were destroyed in an anti-encroachment operation on Monday at three different locations: Khyber Chowk, Banaras Pak Colony and Chaman Cinema.

Under the banners of the Karachi Bachao Tehreek, a march was held earlier this month from Regal Chowk to the Karachi Press Club against the demolitions of houses of low-income class. Affected families of the anti-encroachment operation and activists of the Awami Workers Party, Lyari Awami Mahaz, Women Democratic Front and Progressive Students Federation participated in the rally and demanded alternative accommodation for those who had been rendered homeless.

The Awami Worker Party’s general secretary, Khurram Ali, shared that the corporation had sped up the operation since Sunday after civil society started to approach tribunals. “On Sunday, we collected leases from the residents and we will file request for a stay order in court,” he said, adding that on March 21, there will be a massive protest at the Karachi Press Club.