Karachi Bachao Tehreek decries compensation set for anti-encroachment victims

Government mandated anti-encroachment demolitions will displace 96,000 residents across 12,000 homes, according to UN

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The Karachi Bachao Tehreek (KBT) has said that more needs to be done to rehabilitate victims of anti-encroachment drives in Karachi after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered the Sindh Government to resettle all impacted within a year.

In a tweet, the KBT appreciated that the SC had ordered the Sindh Government to redress those whose houses were razed down as part of the Orangi Nalla and Gujjar Nalla demolition drive.

The working-class rights advocates said that the current monetary compensation of Rs90,000, which was being disbursed in Rs15,000 installments, was insufficient to rehabilitate the evicted residents. KBT noted that the payments were made on an ad hoc basis, which was unfair as all legal residents of the areas should be compensated financially.

The organization also said that all the evacuees should be given decent housing as was incumbent under the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which calls for adequate housing for a decent standard of living.

KBT furthered that schools, places of worship and a general sense of community was lost along with living arrangements, which caused much trauma for the inhabitants. It was the duty of the government to ensure the trauma stricken were comforted immediately, KBT added. KBT also suggested that representatives from all affected areas like the Nallas, Aladdin Park, Haaji Mureed Goth etc., should be given seats in the commission made by the Sindh government to oversee the rehabilitation process.

Earlier on September 22, the SC berated the Sindh government for its ineffective handling of the displaced people. Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed was irked that the government gave petty excuses of not having enough funds to compensate the eviction victims. Justice Ahmed ordered the rehabilitation of residents within a year and said that a progress report must be submitted by the Sindh chief minister within two weeks.

Government mandated evictions have been a repeated issue in recent weeks. Earlier this month, the government allegedly evicted locals from Ali Dad Gabol Goth and other villages under the guise of an anti-encroachment drive in Karachi.

General Secretary Awami Workers Party (AWP) Khurram Ali in a tweet claimed that the evictions followed when real estate giant Bahria Town was unable to capture the lands legally.

The Sindh Government also launched an anti-encroachment drive in September 2020 to fix the city’s flailing drainage system by clearing illegal settlements around the storm water drains of Gujjar Nalla and Orangi Nalla.

In July, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a statement and called on the government to stop the mass evictions that were carried out without due regard for the inhabitants. According to the statement, close to 96,000 residents across 12,000 homes would be impacted negatively by the demolitions.