SC annoyed over mismanagement of civic resources in Karachi


Court orders KDC to demolish all illegal buildings and offices built on land allocated for public parks



The Supreme Court’s (SC) Karachi Registry on Saturday ordered the city’s administration to demolish all illegal buildings and offices built on land that was previously allocated to public parks.

Hearing a petition filed by former Karachi mayor Naimatullah Khan, a two-member SC bench comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Maqbool Baqar ordered the city’s authorities to tear down wedding halls, political parties’ offices and other illegal buildings along Kashmir Road as well as in other parts of the city.

“The city has been ruined,” Justice Ahmed thundered at one point. “Is there anyone who will take responsibility for it?”

Recalling that he used to play cricket in China Ground in his youth, he noted that the land has since been turned into developed property. He ordered the authorities to reclaim the playground and demolish the offices built there.

“Illegal buildings will not be tolerated on land allocated for welfare projects,” he stated.

He also demanded to know who was responsible for “building huge walls” on Shahra-a-Faisal, before remarking that Karachi’s dilapidated condition had become a “source of embarrassment” for its residents.

Justice Ahmed also questioned the building of new shopping malls, saying that they seemed to serve “no good” since locally manufactured products were not sold there.

“Even our labourers are losing their jobs to the Chinese now,” he complained, possibly in reference to various sanitation projects in the city being handed over to foreign contractors.

The bench admonished Sindh Attorney General Zamir Ghumro — who had appeared before the court — for not taking any action against provincial officials involved in land grabbing.

“What is the Sindh government doing? What does it want us to do?” asked the exasperated Justice Ahmed.”We don’t want to assume the government’s job.”

He regretted that the court had to interfere in administrative affairs when its job was to look at matters regarding the law and the Constitution.

Justice Ahmed also criticised the lavish lifestyle of government officers, wondering where they were getting the money to “charter private flights to get their children married in London”. Without naming anyone, he asked the AG if any action had been taken against the officer who was accused of doing so.

Justice Ahmed then told Ghumro to advise the mayor of Karachi and the chief minister of Sindh to step back and take a fresh look at Karachi’s condition. Ghumro was also ordered to submit a complete computerised record of the province’s revenue along with details of its standard operating procedures within a month.

News that 648 acres of government land was still plagued with illegal encroachments added to the court’s annoyance with the city’s administration. The assistant commissioner of Kotri was summoned to the Karachi registry and was ordered him to remove all encroachments from the area within a month.

“Take indiscriminate action against everyone involved [in setting up encroachments on government land],” the bench told the bureaucrat, warning him that “no one will protect you if you are found involved in any irregularity”. The process of removing encroachments shall start from Sunday morning, the court ordered.