Sindh govt to use Martial Law 1983 powers to resettle Empress Market traders


KARACHI: With an aim to resettle traders who have been displaced after the anti-encroachment drive was launched at the city’s busiest commercial market – Empress Market – in Saddar area, the Sindh government may use powers and functions of the 1983 Martial law to resettle thousands of traders in the adjoining Lines Area.

In November 2018, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC), under the supervision of Mayor Waseem Akhtar had launched the anti-encroachment drive in Saddar, resulting in the demolition of more than 1,500 shops around Empress Market, a British era structure.

However, after a massive hue and cry from the displaced traders and civil society, the Sindh government has reactivated and reconstituted the Lines Area Redevelopment Project (LARP) to resettle displaced shopkeepers of Empress Market.

According to sources, the LARP was launched by the government of prime minister (PM) Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1974. After the land of Lines Area’s was purchased from the army, provincial finance minister Kamal Azfar had its master plan prepared by famed architect Yasmin Lari to build flats and plots for the rehabilitation of 17,000 displaced families.

However, some flat blocks were built on 10 acres in Jacob Lines and Abyssinia Lines by the time Bhutto’s government was dismissed in 1977.

Sources told Pakistan Today that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led Sindh government, which always opposed to martial law and dictatorship, has included the clauses of 1983’s Martial Law while reactivating the LARP.

In this regard, the Sindh Local Government Department has issued a notification No So(G)/HTP/KDA/8-25/2018 for reconstituting the LARP board.

The new board will have the local government minister as its chairman, LARP project director would be the secretary while local government secretary, Karachi commissioner, Karachi mayor, Karachi Development Authority (KDA) director general (DG), Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) Master Plan director, KDA Land Management director, and public representatives would be board members.

The second part of the notification states: “The powers and functions will remain the same as set down in Martial Law Order No 203 dated 3.5.1983”.