Expressing their concern over the displacement of families due to the ongoing anti-encroachment movement along Gujjar Nullah and Mehmoodabad Nullah in the Manzoor Colony, the construction of the Malir Toll Road, and the expansion and reconstruction of ML-1, a group of city planners, civil society activists and residents said on the day Wednesday that the federal government and Sindh have committed human rights violations by destroying working class homes.
These observations were made at the Karachi Press Club at the press conference, which was held under the banner of the Karachi Joint Action Committee, an alliance of civil society groups.
Among the speakers was urban planner Arif Hasan, co-chair of the Pakistan Human Rights Commission Asad Iqbal Butt, executive director of the Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research Karamat Ali, co-director of the Zahid Farooq Municipal Resource Center, permanent director of the Aurat Mahnaz Rehman Foundation and Technical Director Sirajuddin Training Resource Center.
Hanif Dilmurad, leader of the Indigenous Rights Alliance representing the affected people on the Malir Toll Road, Shazia Zafar, a woman representing people affected by anti-encroachment operations along Gujjar Nullah, and others also spoke.
Hasan said displacement due to toll road construction and in the name of operations against encroachment had added to people’s misery by increasing unemployment and poverty.
“In the name of development, the government has occupied the land of low-income communities and used it for the benefit of the rich and influential as well as builders,” he said. “In addition, the government does not consult with residents prior to carrying out operations and development in their areas.” Butt is suing the federal and Sindh governments to ensure relocation, rehabilitation and compensation prior to eviction.
Malir Toll Road
Dilmurad, a social activist and researcher who has led protests against the construction of the Malir Toll Road in recent weeks, said that the provincial government has not consulted with residents or elected representatives in the area about building a megaproject that will destroy their homes. and livelihoods in more than 26 ancient villages and regions.
In December, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari launched a toll road project, calling it “the largest civilian infrastructure project ever undertaken by any provincial government in Pakistan under a public-private partnership”.
The Malir Expressway will be built as a 38.5 kilometer controllable high-speed expressway to connect Karachi center to the M-9, the highway between Karachi and Hyderabad.
However, Dilmurad said the toll road construction would destroy more than two dozen older villages, displace large numbers of people and destroy plantations.
Samoo Goth, Old Shafi Goth, Lasi Goth, Lasi Goth, Magsi Goth, Thadoo Goth, Nai Abadi, Shafi Goth, Ayah Muhammad Goth, Gulshan-e-Maryam, Mulla Essa Goth, Nasir City, Clock Goth, Shahu Bagh, Fazal Bagh , Malir Bungalows, Yaar Muhammad Jokhio Goth, Rasool Bux Khaskheli Goth are some of the places that will be destroyed, according to Dilmurad.
“We have seen devastation during the construction of the Lyari Expressway. People who were displaced because of the project are still homeless and their suffering has not stopped even though 17 years have passed, ”he said.
Gujjar, Mehmoodabad Nullahs
Shazia Zafar, a woman from Haji Mureed Goth, said that despite having lease documents, the authorities have demolished their house in the name of eliminating disturbances along Gujjar Nullah.
The speakers demanded that the Sindh government follow up on Bilawal’s Sept. 5 speech to rain-affected people at KDA Chowrangi, in which he promised not to evict people living around Gujjar Nullah without providing alternative accommodation.
They said that in both pillars, the authorities made no effort to clear clogged rainwater drains, and instead they destroyed the homes of residents who had lived there for more than four decades.
Speakers also discussed upgrades to the Peshawar-to-Karachi Mainline-1 (ML-I) railroad. Media reports quoting the railway minister said that an 1,872 km long line would be built alongside the existing line – turning it into a double track. “But there has been no survey on the demolition of houses due to the ML-1 project and the rehabilitation of victims because of that,” said Butt.
There is no EIA
The speakers also said that environmental impact assessments were not carried out prior to the construction of the Malir Expressway and the ML-1 project or before undertaking a demolition campaign, resulting in further environmental damage to the city. They demanded that the government immediately carry out an Amdal at the project site.