SC summons Karachi mayor on plea to rehabilitate displaced families

The Supreme Court on Monday summoned the Karachi mayor and other officials for Dec 21 in a case pertaining to payment of compensation and rehabilitation of the families rendered homeless following a demolition drive along three major drains in the city.

When a three-judge SC bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar took up the matter for hearing on Monday, the commissioner’s report was placed before it.

While the SC on Aug 17 had ordered the authorities to complete payment of rent to displaced families in 30 days, the commissioner’s report conceded that 1,497 cheques on account of rental support to the affected households had not been handed over yet.

The apex court was also informed that despite the passage of a reasonable time, no progress had been made on the rehabilitation of the displaced families.

The report stated that the distribution of cheques among the displaced families was in progress and four cheques (each of Rs90,000) on account of rental support were being given to each household.

26,249 people rendered homeless in demolition drive received rental support cheques, 1,479 haven’t, commissioner tells apex court

It maintained that out of total 27,728 cheques, 26,249 had been distributed while 1,479 had not been given yet while the process of the remaining disbursement was still continued on a daily basis.

The counsel for the affected families informed the bench that the authorities concerned had not made any compliance with the court order about the rehabilitation of such families.

A provincial law officer claimed that the remaining cheques on account of the rental support could not be distributed as some of applicants had passed away while the CNICs of a number of claimants had been blocked. He sought more time for a comprehensive compliance report.

The bench directed the mayor and other officials concerned to appear before it on Dec 21.

Displaced families stage protest

Meanwhile, a large number of the affected persons, including women, turned up and staged a protest outside the apex court building against the authorities for failing to compensate and rehabilitate them.

On Aug 17, while hearing a plea seeking contempt proceedings against then chief minister Murad Ali Shah for not complying with its orders passed in 2021 about the compensation and rehabilitation of the affected families, the Supreme Court had directed the provincial and local authorities to pay within a month the rental support amount to families who were dispossessed from their abodes.

About the Rs10 billion rehabilitation scheme for such families, the bench in its order had said that the outgoing CM, mayor and other senior officials had forwarded proposals that the government would release amounts to each of the affected family for purchase of land and construction according to the market value of the land from where they had been dispossessed while about the cost of construction, the standards laid down by the Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) for construction of house measuring 80 square yards would be followed.

As an alternate, the Sindh government would allot a plot measuring 80 square yards to each of such families and after handing over peaceful vacant possession of such plots, the cost of construction would also be paid to each of families in accordance with the standards set out by the PEC, it added.

Published in Dawn, By Ishaq Tanoli December 19th, 2023