The provincial advocate general has told the Sindh High Court (SHC) that the provincial government has proposed building a 30-foot-wide road along the Gujjar and Orangi storm water drains in order to ensure that no further construction takes place on the right of way and that accessibility is improved.
Filing a statement on lawsuits with regard to the demolition of houses at Gujjar and Orangi nullahs, the AG submitted that the drains were natural drains and the right of way in respect of each was originally designated in pre-Partition times between 40 and 210 feet on either sides of the Gujjar drain and 20 to 300 feet on either side of the Orangi drain.
He said the Sindh government acquired services of the NED Engineering university to determine the optimal size of the drains as well as right of way in respect of each drain, which was required to ensure that they functioned properly and to minimise the number of buildings that would be required to be demolished.
He submitted that the NED University had determined that the width of the Gujjar drain may be minimum 35 and maximum 80 feet, while minimum 20 feet and maximum 40 feet at the Orangi drain to cater for timely drainage of rainwater.
The Sindh government informed the high court that a road of 30 feet wide was proposed to be built along both drains under which new sewerage lines would be laid in order to ensure that no further construction took place on the right of way and accessibility was improved.
He submitted that that all buildings that fall outside the required land will not be demolished, while occupants of those buildings that were built on 100 per cent to 70 per cent of the required land will receive a sum of Rs15,000 per month for two years and will also be offered housing in the Naya Pakistan housing scheme at preferential interest rates.
He said that 2,500 cheques in the sum of Rs15,000 each had already been prepared of which 1,790 cheques had been handed over to affected people of the Gujjar drain and 690 people affected by the anti-encroachment drive along the Orangi drain.
On Monday, the Sindh High Court had issued notices to the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and others on a petition against demolition of leased houses in the guise of anti-encroachment drive along drains in the city. The high court, however, did not grant any stay against the drive.
The petitioners submitted that they were residing at leased houses in the Nazimabad and Orangi Town areas; however, the KMC and other authorities were trying to demolish their houses in the guise of the anti-encroachment drive.
They submitted that the KMC and other relevant authorities had issued lease to them for construction of houses. They said KMC officials were misinterpreting the Supreme Court’s order and intended to demolish their houses illegally.
The high court inquired the petitioner’s counsel how the KMC Katchi Abadi department could lease the land earmarked for drains. The SHC observed that no injunction could be passed against the anti-encrochment drive on drains as the matter was sub judice before the Supreme Court, and directed the KMC and other respondents to file their comments with respect to the lease claim of the petitioners.