KARACHI   -   Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed on Saturday told the authorities to continue the operation against encroachments in the metropolis and restore original face of the city.

“We will not tolerate any hurdle in the way of removal of encroachments,” Justice Gulzar Ahmed stated while chairing a high level meeting at the Karachi Registry of the Supreme Court. He said that parks and lakes of the city should be rehabilitated after removing encroachments from there.

The acting CJP identified encroachments at parks and lakes in the city and said the court wants to see what action has been taken against these encroachments. The court wants to see Karachi a “clean and green city”, Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked and ordered removal of encroachments from Jheel Kothi area of the city.

He also showed displeasure with the performance of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SCBA) and said that Karachi would not have faced such a bad situation had the authority been working efficiently. Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that SCBA acted as a facilitator for the elements, which encroached the public places in the city.

The Karachi Development Authority (KDA) submitted a report to the meeting that indicated that it retrieved more than 5,000 plots from the land grabbers. Meanwhile, the acting CJP ordered the Pakistan Railways to remove encroachments from the track of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) immediately. The Pakistan Railway will start the operation against encroachments on Monday, officials assured the acting CJP, who chaired a high level meeting at the Karachi Registry.  Justice Gulzar Ahmed directed the authorities to start removal of encroachments without wasting any time. Railway officials said the department had started work in line with the court orders.

WHY PATRONS ENJOY IMPUNITY?

Removing illegal encroachments from Karachi but not taking action against corrupt government officials and politicians who had facilitated and patronised this illegal business does not seem justified.

strict action should also be taken against the corrupt officials of the local government department, KDA, KMC, DMCs and other agencies besides the ruling politicians in different governments for their notorious involvement in letting hundreds of thousands of encroachments emerge in the megacity, demanded Pasban Democratic Party President Altaf Shakoor.

In a statement here on Saturday, he said that the government parks, playgrounds, amenity plots, roads and streets were not occupied in one day but the corrupt bureaucracy and ruling parties were fully and actively behind this menace. He said that it is not possible to occupy state land without convert support of the corrupt government officials and ruling politicians.

He said that the action is being taken to remove encroachments from the megacity but no action is being taken against the real patrons of this menace in the Sindh Building Control Authority, KMC, KDA, DMC, cantonment boards and other civic agencies.

He said that there is a huge role of ruling politicians in promoting the culture of land grabbing and squatting in the megacity but all these holy cows are being spared and they seem to enjoy a sort of immunity because all major political parties are somehow involved in this crime and its abetment.

Shakoor said that the affected residents and shopkeepers should be given alternate lands and spaces for their homes and shops. He said that presently only small shopkeepers and vendors are being targeted but the big fish of land mafia who have erected hundreds of bungalows, villas, apartments and mansions on the land of the Kidney Park, Hill Park, Jheel Park, Sufari Park, Aziz Bhatti Park, Gutter Baghicha Park are not being touched so far, which cannot be termed as justice and equity.

He said that the builder mafia has erected and sold dozens of illegal high-rise buildings on amenity plots that should also be razed and stern action be taken against the mafia and their patrons in government department and agencies and corridors of power.