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KARACHI: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that on the directives of Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto, the provincial government has decided to allot 80 square yard plots to all the 6,500 families displaced due to removal of encroachments along the embankments of Gujjar and Orangi nullahs.

“Since the affected people are very poor to construct their houses, therefore we would like to request the Supreme Court of Pakistan to provide Rs10 billion being recovered from Bahria Town to spend on the construction of over 6,500 houses, development of roads, drainage and water supply infrastructure in Malir district and to construct drainage system on the left bank of River Indus which usually inundated the big cities and towns in the areas.”

He said this on Friday while addressing a crowded and important press conference at CM House. He was accompanied by his cabinet members, Syed Nasir Shah, Sohial Anwar Siyal and advisor law Murtaza Wahab.

Shah said that the PPP chairman has directed the provincial government to provide houses to the displaced people of Gujjar and Orangi nullahs. “Federal government has agreed to give two months rent to the affected people at a rate of Rs15,000 per month and it has agreed to provide them apartments in Naya Pakistan Housing schemes,” he said and added, “the manifesto of PPP calls for provision of shelter to the shelterless, therefore it becomes the responsibility to provide houses to the affected people,” he said.

The CM said that he has decided that the 80 square yard plots be provided to each displaced family either at Taiser Town or LDA Scheme-42. “The people who had no money or resources, therefore they had settled along the embankments of the nullahs and obviously they would have no resources to construct a 80 square yard house,” he said and added the resources of provincial government were also limited, therefore the provincial cabinet has decided to file three applications in the supreme court of Pakistan.

(1) The application would request the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the anti-encroachment drive along the Gujjar and Orangi nullahs has rendered 6,500 families homeless.

The Sindh government has decided to provide a 80-square yard plot to each family and the construction of the house would cost Rs one million each unit and the amount would come to Rs3.5 billion along with the construction of the entire infrastructure of roads, draining and water supply. Therefore, the funds being recovered from Bahria Town may be provided to construction of the houses.

(2) The second application would be about District Malir where a large number of development schemes, including of water, sewerage, roads and storm water drains were being launched to develop the area, Murad Ali Shah said and added that the provincial government was facing shortage of funds, therefore the funds being recovered from Bahria Town may be given to the Sindh government to gear up the development in Malir district.

(3) The third application would state that the various districts located on the Left Bank of River Indus such as Badin, Mirpurkhas, Sanghar and others inundate whenever it rains heavy, the CM said and added the Irrigation department in 2013 had prepared a drainage scheme to dispose of rainwater from Left bank area but due to paucity of funds the scheme has not been launched in full swing. He said that the supreme court, in the third application also, would be requested to divert the funds of Bahria Town to the left bank drainage scheme.

The chief minister said that these all schemes would cost around Rs10 billion. “therefore, through three applications, to be filed on Saturday morning, the supreme court would be requested to divert Rs10 billion being recovered from Bahria Town to these schemes so that they could be completed in time. “We would have no objection if the Supreme Court appoints a monitory judge or monitor itself the implementation of the said schemes,” he announced.

Talking about Nasla Tower, Murad Ali Shah said that his government respected the verdict of the Supreme Court and would implement it. “We want a way out to save the investment of the residents who have purchased apartments there,” he said and added it [Nasla Tower] could be regularised as Bani Gala was regularised.

Brushing aside the impression of his [Sindh] government’s involvement in construction of the Nasla Tower, the chief minister said that the land was allotted in 1950 and then its status kept changing through one approval or the other. He said that the cantonment authority had also given its approval and the SBCA has also overlooked minor violations. “But it doesn’t mean that due to a mistake of an officer all the residents /allottees of the tower be punished,” he said and went on saying the residents were going to supreme court for review and his government would also request for review.

Inquiry Commission: Murad Ali Shah disclosed that the provincial cabinet has decided to request the Supreme Court of Pakistan to allow constitution of an Inquiry Commission under a retired judge or a retired grade BS-21 officer to inquire into the matters of allotment of land, approval of layout plans, overlooking violations or allowing extra lands of all the controversial projects and fix the responsibility.

The inquiry commission would scrutinise the allotment of apartments, shops, showrooms etc and would identify the involved officer /elected representatives, Murad Ali Shah said and added that the inquiry commission would also explore the legal position whether such projects could be regularised or not.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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