Karachi: Bid to occupy Gutter Baghicha land foiled
KARACHI: An attempt to grab the remaining 480 acres of Gutter Baghicha meant for the construction of a national park was foiled by area residents who have now set up a camp at the site to guard it.
The city government’s anti-encroachment staff, led by coordinator of Site Town and equipped with trucks and shovels, arrived at the site to demarcate and forcibly occupy 200 acres to be used allegedly for an illegal housing society for city government employees and builders, according to a press release issued by an NGO, Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment. It pointed out that the action was taken despite the fact that an FIR against those corrupt officials who were involved in the project land scam was pending in an anti-corruption court. It was amazing that the initiative was made at a time when a change of government was imminent, the NGO observed.
The plan to convert the Gutter Baghicha land into a model national park was announced by General Musharraf on April 28, 2002 during his visit to Karachi. He had said that this would be a gift to the people of Karachi. But there has been no worthwhile progress in this regard so far and the city government has yet to implement the decision.
The president had directed provincial and city government officials to take appropriate measures for the project’s implementation. The announcement and the subsequent directive were followed by a meeting held with the district coordination officer in chair to ponder on different aspects of the project. The meeting decided to remove illegal hydrants and other encroachments from the site to pave the way for the park’s construction. A grand operation was launched to dismantle hydrants illegally operated by industrialists and remove encroachments. The government move was welcomed by people. But the operation was abruptly halted after a group of industrialists met Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad Khan despite the fact that the project was accorded top priority by the president.
It is pertinent to note that the dismantled hydrants were later restored and they are currently being operated by industrialists with the connivance of authorities.
Area people wondered why there had been no progress on the project, which was approved by the country’s president, contrary to tall claims made by the CDGK regarding city’s development. They said that the land mafia with the connivance of higher authorities were eying this precious land and hatching conspiracies against the construction of a national park around a congested and polluted locality.
The complete article can be found at Dawn News.