Homes of the homeless

Ali OusatWeb Editor

17th Jun, 2021. 02:08 pm
Homes of the Homeless

More than 50,000 people lose homes in Karachi to clear two major waterways.

Karachi: Sitting on the debris of her house near Kauser Niazi Colony in North Nazimabad, Zara Khan, 21, feels there is nothing worse than living in poverty in this country.

Having been rendered jobless by the lockdown imposed to curb Covid-19 and suffered troubles in her married life, Khan now faces the ordeal of losing her house.

Khan is among the 50,000 people, including women and children, affected by Supreme Court’s recent order to demolish all encroachments to widen the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs.

“Look at the debris of my house, it looks like a remote area of rural Sindh hit by a flood,” she said adding that unfortunately, she did not face a natural calamity but a man-made disaster.

The Gujjar Nullah settlement stretches from New Karachi Nullah stop to Nazimabad Golimar area, covering 28 kilometres. Likewise, the Orangi Town Nullah covers 26 kilometres and stretches from Gulshan-e-Behar to Gulberg.
Most of the settlements around Gujjar Nullah had already been demolished during the 2016 and 2018 anti-encroachment drive. The area is now undergoing another anti-encroachment drive under which further houses are being demolished to widen the nullah by 30 feet.

Interestingly, widening of the nullah was not part of the city’s master plan or required for the cleaning of the drain. Constructing roads on both sides of the nullah, however, was being planned and designed under the supervision of the National Disaster Management Authority.

Khurram Ali, a political activist who has been advocating for the rights of the local residents, said that it was unfortunate too see the people who had been living in this area for decades suffer.

“They are spending their nights under the open sky,” he said adding that it is their responsibility to help the locals get full compensation according to the court’s directives so that the people can live with dignity.

Speaking about the compensation being offered to those affected, Ali said that the money promised to the families was very less.

On Monday June 14, Supreme Court dismissed area residents’ plea against the anti-encroachment drive required to widen the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs.

The lawyer for the applicants argued that the property being demolished was leased to the residents and a proper compensation was not being offered to those affected.

However, the advocate general during the hearing, submitted that the government was providing rent up to Rs20,000 per month for two years to the affected families and would also provide accommodations in the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme.

On the directions of the Supreme Court, KMC is carrying out another operation recovering Aladdin Amusement Park’s land.

The SC has ordered to stop all the commercial activities to restore Aladdin Water Park in its original shape.
The court in its judgement directed the concerned authorities to raze the Pavilion End Club and shopping centre located near the water park.

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