Dwellers expect new govt to upgrade capital’s slums

  • Living conditions in Islamabad’s all 52 slums are bleak, dreary

ISLAMABAD: The densely populated Paris Muhalla and 100 Quarters – the two slum areas located in the midst of F-6 and F-7 sectors – are among 50 small and big shantytowns situated across the length and breadth of the federal capital. The dwellers of these slums just had a shimmer of hope in the new government’s decision to ‘upgrade’ slums all over the country including the capital.

The poorest segments of the society doing menial work, odd jobs in workshops, recruited on daily-basis by semi-government organisations as janitors and cleaners live in the capital’s 52 slums, according to the statement by CDA Chairman Ishrat Ali before the Supreme Court during Katchi Abadi case where the court is considering to give ownership rights to the occupants.

The Capital Development Authority told the Supreme Court that out of many slums, the ones located in Sector G-7/1, G-7/2, G-7/3 and Sector F-7/4 are being upgraded with award of proprietary rights to 1,299 bonafide inhabitants. During the last hearing in mid-August, the Supreme Court summoned the next CADD minister. However, the new government in its maiden meeting has decided to abolish the CADD Ministry altogether and place its attached departments under other secretariats.

While Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government aims to upgrade existing slums, the city managers have to keep an eye on the mushroomed growth of the new slums in nearby vicinities of the capital. As reported by this paper following the footsteps of Sector I-11, where Islamabad’s latest slum has been established, a similar one is being slowly and steadily coming to life in Sector I-12. The CDA Enforcement Directorate has once again turned a blind eye on this important issue.

It is pertinent to mention here that CDA has possession of the land and all set to develop a new sector. It is estimated that more than a lac people dwell in scores of the capital’s slums that located in F-6, F-7, G-7, H-9, I-11, I-12 and other areas. The living conditions in these slums are bleak and dreary despite the fact that dozens of the slums have been given ownership rights by the courts and are legally occupied by inhabitants.

A decade back, multiple operations cleanup were conducted to vacate the slums. However, strong resistance from the dwellers and the court orders deterred city managers from the actions. Along with the Municipal Administration Directorate, the CDA Enforcement Wing continues anti-encroachment, anti-slum operation and razes illegal kiosks, stalls, chappar hotels in some areas while turning the blind eye in similar structures in the elite locality of Chak Shahzad and sectors like F-6, F-7, G-12 and E-12.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Alia Amir Ali who had worked extensively for the ownership rights of the occupants said that governments for the past four decades have turned a blind eye towards the spanning slums all over the capital city. “Since the residents of these slums are voiceless, poor and they’ve been denied proprietary rights. Our contention is simple, the provision of the basic amenities and proprietary rights to those who live in these slums,” she said.