Sunday, April 5, 2009

MQM's illegal encroachments in North Nazimabad -UPDATE 2

Related post : MQM's illegal encroachments in North Nazimabad UPDATE 1

Land-grabbers occupying North Nazimabad parks

By Bhagwandas (DAWN News)

KARACHI, April 4: Encroachers, reportedly patronised by the land mafia and influential groups in the city, have launched a well-planned assault on the open public spaces – parks, playgrounds, etc – in North Nazimabad, and the illegal structures are being raised at breakneck speed, Dawn has learnt.

The city district government Karachi, while accepting that the land is being occupied, has expressed its inability to stop the violation of the rules, which are otherwise so strict that even a plot reserved for one type of amenity can not be used for another.

The illegal structures being raised are of residential as well as commercial nature and billions of rupees are reportedly being pocketed by those behind the encroachments at the cost of the common people and area residents.

The sources said that these parks and playgrounds are located along Shahrahi-Noor Jahan in Taimuria, North Nazimabad (KDA Scheme No 2). This is said to be one of the best planned schemes in the city and was offered by the government to the people of the city with ample open areas.

The open areas that have been encroached upon are: Plot No ST 5/2 Block E (a park having an area of 2.03 acres); ST 5/4 Block E (playground, two acres); ST 5/1 Block E (Hazoori Bagh, area 1.35 acres); ST 4 Block D (Bagh-i-Afroze, area 3.5 acres); ST 1 Block I (Bagh-iDilkusha, area 2.75 acres); ST 9 Block A (Bagh-i-Babar) and ST 5 Block K (Taj Mahal Bagh having an area of six acres).

Responding to Dawn’s queries, the CDGK’s anti-encroachment chief Matanat Ali Khan took the details and said that he would look into the issue and would respond soon.

When he did respond, Mr Khan conceded that the structures were being raised on amenity spaces, but refused to give any further comment or to launch any anti-encroachment drive.

Responding to Dawn’s queries, the CDGK’s Master Plan executive district officer Ateeq Baig said that under the law an amenity plot – park, playground etc – cannot be used for any other purpose, nor could its status be changed.

He said that the status of the amenity spaces in North Nazimabad along Shahrah-i-Noor Jahan had not been changed, nor is there any such proposal in the process.

Talking to Dawn a member of Shehri – a non-governmental organisation which has been raising civic issues – said that it had approached various government officials as well as politicians on the issue, but none of them had responded. He said that letters with all the relevant information had been sent to Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Chief Secretary Fazal-ur-Rehman, Local Government Minister Agha Siraj Durrani, City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal, Environment Minister Askari Taqvi, Environment Secretary Mir Hussain Ali and Karachi Building Control Authority chief Manzoor Qadir many times, but none of them had responded.

The NGO’s representative said that the laws being violated included the Sindh Local Government Ordinance 2001 (incl. Regs. 67–70, Sixth Schedule); Karachi Building & Town Planning Regulations 2002 (incl. 1804.1); Sindh Building Control Ordinance 1979 (incl. 6.1); and the Pakistan Environmental Protection Act 1997 (incl. 4).

Shehri said that such amenity spaces cannot be allotted by the CDGK for residential purposes, nor can building plans be approved by the KBCA, while the construction also cannot be undertaken without the approval of the plan.

It said that though the Sindh government as well as the CDGK had not taken any steps to stop the illegal constructions, the organisation would continue to raise the issue till someone in the corridors of power moved to protect public interests.