SC rejects plea to halt anti-encroachment drive along Gujjar, Orangi drains

Supreme Court Karachi Registry. Source: FILE/Online

KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday revoked a stay against anti-encroachment drive along the Gujjar and Orangi drains in Karachi.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Gulzar Ahmed heard a case at the Karachi registry against the razing of housing along the drains. The apex court also instructed the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to continue the anti-encroachment drive along the stormwater drains ahead of the monsoon season.

The counsel for the KMC informed the bench that the work on the expansion of Gujjar and Orangi drains was underway on court orders, but the anti-encroachment tribunal has stopped them from razing leased houses.

Advocate General Sindh said the houses along the drains had been illegally leased by different government departments. He apprised the court that Rs20,000 per month rent would be given to the affectees whose houses were being razed.

The chief justice remarked that the Sindh government is responsible for leasing the land of the drains. “How can illegal leases be given? What was the government doing,” he chided “All this happened under your nose and you didn’t know.”

The lawyer of the affectees said that the lease issued by the KDA, KMC, and Katchi Abadi Department. He urged that 6,000 affectees of the anti-encroachment operation should be given alternate housing.

The SC bench questioned on providing relief to people encroaching state land as all documents are fake. The judge said encroachments will have to be removed in any case and said the operation could not be stopped.

The apex court revoked the stay order and ordered the KMC to continue the anti-encroachment drive along the Gujjar and Orangi drains. It also turned down a plea for compensation by the affectees.

Prior to the hearing, the Gujjar nullah affectees held a demonstration outside the Supreme Court Karachi Registry. The Sindh government decided to remove encroachments around these drains after the urban floods in Karachi last year.

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