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Bahria Town will not take over Karachi park until all stakeholders approve: Malik Riaz

Bahria Town will not take over Karachi park until all stakeholders approve: Malik Riaz

Malik Riaz, the owner of real estate giant Bahria Town, said Friday that his company will not take over Karachi’s iconic park — Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim — until all stakeholders, including mayor Waseem Akhtar agree to hand it over to them.

Riaz's statement is a response to Friday's news report saying the Sindh government had decided to hand over the park to Bahria Town for 10 years in a move which the provincial authorities claimed would save funds and encourage private organisations to carry out social work and public service.

The property tycoon said in a Twitter post that it was "really unfortunate" how some people had reacted to the news.

"I... want to clarify that we are not buying this park. We are not getting any penny from any government institution nor do we plan to," he said.

Riaz said Bahria Town has no commercial interest in the venture and will invest in the beautification and maintenance of the park, which is spread over 130 acres.

"We will not take over this park till all stakeholders agree to hand it over to us, rest assured."

Riaz also posted a copy of the agreement reached with Sindh government enlisting the responsibilities of Bahria Town regarding the park.

According to the agreement, Bahria Town will be responsible for renovating, improving and maintaining Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim for a period of 10 years on its own expenses.

Bahria Town intends to spend Rs100 million initially for the renovation of the park, the document says.

A notification issued by the Sindh local government ministry Thursday stated that the decision to hand over the park “for adoption” had been taken after its approval by a competent authority, but made it clear that salary of its staff would be paid by the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC).

For this ‘handover’, the Pakistan Peoples Party-led Sindh government first took over the control of the park from the city’s municipal administration mainly dominated by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan.

“In pursuance of notification of even number dated 21-11-2016 and with the approval of competent authority, Bagh Ibn-e-Qasim Park along with aquarium situated in Clifton has been taken over by the local government department from KMC and handed over to M/S Bahria Town Private Limited for adoption as per agreement executed on 30-03-2017,” said the notification.

Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar told a television news channel that he had not been consulted on the handover of the park.

The park is in the vicinity of Bahria Icon Tower — an under-construction 60-storey building of the real estate tycoon which will be the country’s tallest structure after its completion.

But Sindh local bodies minister Jam Khan Shoro made it clear that the organisations adopting parks would not be allowed to use such facilities for commercial purposes.

The agreement between the provincial government and Bahria Town allowed the real estate company to “take care” of the park for the next 10 years “considering” its contribution to social and welfare projects, the local bodies minister told Dawn. It would definitely save government funds to a large extent, he added.

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