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‘Tussle’ between Sindh govt, KMC over encroachments’ removal angers SC

‘Tussle’ between Sindh govt, KMC over encroachments’ removal angers SC

KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed serious resentment over lack of coordination between the Sindh and city governments to comply with its earlier order about removal of encroachments.

The court directed the provincial law officer to come up with a compliance report on Aug 9.

A three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah was hearing a set of petitions at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry against encroachments in public parks and conversion of amenity lands for commercial and residential purposes.

The apex court has sought a report on KCR and revival of tram service in Karachi

On May 9, the bench had directed the Sindh government to take proper action for improving the state of affairs of Karachi and asked the Sindh chief minister to sit with all civic agencies as well as the Karachi mayor to resolve the issues of encroachments, sewerage, illegal and unauthorised constructions.

On Tuesday, Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin submitted that a meeting was held with all stakeholders on the directives of the court, but the minutes of the meeting were not available. He sought more time to file the minutes.

The bench said that the directives were issued around three months ago, but there was no seriousness on part of the provincial authorities.

When Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar informed the bench that he was not invited to that meeting, the bench expressed its displeasure and Justice Ahmed observed that the tussle and political differences between the provincial and city governments had left the people of the city helpless.

When the court inquired about the chief secretary, it was told that he left the country to perform Haj.

At one point, Justice Ahmed said the court would put the chief secretary and chief minister on notice for not complying with the court orders.

He observed that the accumulated rainwater had not been completely drained out from the city yet and there was forecast for another spell of rain in the coming days.

He said that the officials concerned were busy in photo sessions and seen at hotels during rains. Since the provincial and city governments failed to deliver, the federal authorities had announced a cleanliness drive in the city, he added.

KE comes under fire

Justice Arab asked as to what action had been taken against the K-Electric over the death of 20 people who died of electrocution during recent rains.

Justice Ahmed said that nobody was ready to take over KE, adding that if the power utility was sent packing then there would be no alternative arrangement, which was the failure of the authorities concerned.

Expressing resentment over the performance of the power utility and replacement of copper cables with aluminium, Justice Ahmed was of the view that all the companies of the Abraaj group had been shut down expect KE.

He also expressed dissatisfaction over the law and order situation in the provincial metropolis.

Railways say KCR track not ready for trains

The bench directed the railways authorities to come up with a comprehensive report about the operations of the Karachi Circular Railway/local trains and other railway facilities on Aug 9.

In the last hearing, the court had directed the railways secretary to remove all encroachments from the railways land within two weeks and then the Sindh government would take over the KCR and run it within one month.

On Tuesday, railways officials submitted a compliance report and said that most of the encroachments had been removed, but they replied in the negative when the bench asked whether the track was ready for local trains.

The advocate general argued that the railways had no capacity to make local trains operational.

The bench said that railways needed to strengthen its capacity and added that the court wanted to make the local trains and tram service operational.

The bench sought a complete report from the railways secretary and also directed the provincial authorities to file a report regarding tram service in the next hearing.

Police, Rangers told to vacate footpaths in two months

The bench directed the police and Rangers to remove their kiosks and barricades from footpaths and roads of the city within two months.

The court also directed the Rangers to vacate a playground located in PECHS, Block 6.

The Karachi police chief informed the court that as per court order, most of the encroachments including police posts had been removed from footpaths and sought time for the order’s complete compliance.

A Rangers official submitted that barricades had been removed from outside its headquarters on Dr Ziauddin Ahmed Road as well as from the Mitha Ram Hostel.

The court directed the police and paramilitary force to remove the remaining encroachments and file a compliance report in two months.

NAB’s report on status of amenity plot sought

The bench directed the senior member of the Board of Revenue to come up on Aug 9 with record of allotment of an amenity plot adjacent to an amusement park on Rashid Minhas Road.

The National Accountability Bureau was directed to file a report about the status of the plot in the next hearing.

The court also put the chairman and secretary of the Horticultural Society of Pakistan on notice for the next date.

Officials said that the construction on the plot had been stopped and it was taken over by the authorities.

The mayor informed the bench that Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) had retrieved the 62-acre land of Kidney Hill Park (Ahmed Ali Park) on the directive of the apex court and said that the PC-I of a Rs950 million project had been submitted to develop it as a model park.

He said that the KMC had also issued notices to demolish the quarters located on the premises of the park.

The bench dismissed an application regarding allotment of the park’s land. The petitioner’s lawyer produced a notification claiming that the allotment was made in 1951 to the Karachi Cooperative Housing Society.

However, the court dismissed the application with an observation that there was no resolution of the Karachi Development Authority in this regard and the notification did not say that the land of the park was being allotted.

Encroachments by foreign consulates

The bench directed the attorney general to submit a report of the foreign secretary within three weeks regarding encroachments outside foreign missions in Karachi.

The advocate general said that some foreign consulates made encroachments and the provincial authorities approached them, but there was no assistance from the Foreign Office.

The bench directed the officials of the National Engineering Services Pakistan (Nespak) and Pakistan Engineering Council to appear on Aug 9 and file a report about the status of the Sea Breeze Plaza, located on M.A. Jinnah Road.

The S.B. Complex Owners Welfare Association moved the apex court requesting it to review its May 9 order regarding the demolition of the plaza and submitted that no report suggested that the building was dangerous and Nespak had inspected the building and the report was awaited.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2019

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