The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has decided not to tolerate even a single illegal construction in the capital city. The victim of this drive has once again been the I-11 katchi abadi in Islamabad, one that has already been demolished twice. After finally overcoming stiff resistance, they are adamant that 1,200 plots allotted by them in 1990 must be cleared of illegal residents and handed over to the plot owners. With around 2000 residents of this katchi abadi already living in unbearable conditions, protesters are demanding the CDA make a plan for the resettlement of these people.

The CDA teams are at the slum site ready to clean the area as negotiations for a peaceful settlement of the issue have almost failed. The illegal occupants have become desperate, and they continue their protest for the third consecutive day, against the eviction plan. However, they have no voice in the parliament and no one to fight for them. The CDA will make sure they do not get in their way, as they have no legal standing. Transport vehicles are now making rounds to transport the former residents of the slums, many of whom will now have to leave Islamabad for good. The area looks like a war zone.

It is customary for demolishers to allot alternate plots to the uprooted families in order to rebuild their hovels. However, there seem to be no talks on any such arrangements being made.

The rapid growth of slums is not a disease but a symptom of the government’s incompetence coupled with the public’s apathy. The poor don’t build their lanes of tin roofs and mud chambers to ruin the otherwise pristine view of the city from one’s terrace. They do it because they too need protection from the elements and a place to sleep. Perhaps, most of these dwellers are willing to relocate if allowed alternate plots to set up homes. There is no doubt that these residents are illegally residing here, but the government cannot just brush them off, pretending that they have no moral responsibly for thousands of homeless people. Perhaps, they could be given space to live along the Constitution Avenue or in the well-trimmed lawn of the Parliament building?