KARACHI - Local fishermen have demanded the government to fulfil the promise of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto to lease their centuries old villages along the coastal belt in the metropolis, as she had announced to do during her visit of the area in 1993. Shaheed Benazir Bhutto had pledged to lease the fishermens localities including Baba Bhit, Shams Pir, Kaka Village and Salehabad islands during her second tenure as the prime minister but local people are still waiting for the fulfilment of this promise. Different organisations, including Fishermens Co-Operative Society (FCS), had launched campaigns umpteen times for this purpose but the higher authorities did not pay heed to their demand. According to a summary of Sindh land utilisation department letter No PS/ MBR (LU)/1289/93, the land control of Baba Bhit, Salehabad Islands and Kaka area was to be leased to its occupants within a period of 60 days under the directives of then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. While the issuance of leases in 1994 under the Colonisation of Government Lands (Sindh) Act 1912 to the residents of Bhit, Shamspir, Kaka, and Salehabad Islands at the rate of Rs 1/per yard on the condition that leasers should not transfer the lease hold rights up to 25 years provided that KPT/KMC shall provide basic facilities to the occupants. In 1996, a letter was issued to the Deputy Commissioner Karachi West for the related matter. However, in 1999, the KPT Board considered the matter and resolved the grant of lease of Baba Bhit Islands, Shamspir, Salehabad and Kaka areas to the old residents of these places for a period of 99 years with effect from the 24th November 1993. Moreover, the Mukhtarkar (Revenue) Kemari Town issued a letter of verification to the District Officer CDGK on 6th October 2004, and endorsed that Kaka Village is an old settled village of Fishermen on state land (Provincial Government Land), regularised by Government under Sindh Gothabad Scheme. Similarly, the concerned departments had correspondents to each other in this connection, but so far no implementation has been done. Mostly, the lands of the villages have been claimed by KPT and Pakistan Navy. The local people have appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Chief Minister Sindh Syed Qayim Ali Shah and other higher authorities to fulfil the promise of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto. Talking to The Nation, Haji Mohammad Younus, Director Fishermen Co-Operative Society (FCS), alleged that CDGK, Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Port and Shipping Ministry, and other departments were not only creating hurdles to provide lease to these villages, but also patronising mafias involved in land grabbing coastal belt. He said that whole coastal areas had been deprived of the basic needs of life as the civic agencies had turned blind eyes toward the problems of these villages. Haji Younus added that PPP had been the representative party of local fishermen but no leader was not ready to take any initiative to struggle for their rights. He said that conspiracies were hatched to eliminate the centuries old goths, and depriving them of lease and basic civic facilities while, at the same time, mafias had been given free hand to grab land and demolish the mangroves. He further said that land grabbers had cut several mangroves at Mahi Kolachi Road, Jangle Shah, Kemari, Bhatta Village, Salehabad Fisherman Village, Kakka Village, Shams peer, Younusabad, Lyari Naddi and other parts of the city under the patronage of authorities concerned.