Monday, July 6, 2009

No green signal yet for satellite survey of Katchi Abadis

The Sindh government has failed to provide any green signal to the federal government for the long awaited satellite survey of more than 1,000 Katchi Abadis in Sindh, with more than half located in Karachi. The project, scheduled to be executed after a gap of more than 14 years, has been put off due to some political hitches.

According to senior government officials, the survey is badly needed in Karachi, while Karachi Nazim Mustafa Kamal has said that the delay has hampered developmental work in the city. Moreover, he added that power theft is the highest in Katchi Abadis, as most of them have Kundas (illegal connections) for power supply.

Sindh Chief Secretary Fazul Rehman is yet to provide any information to the Federal Local Government (LG) secretary, who would deliver the plan once the Sindh government allows the survey.

Last month, the Federal LG secretary asked the Sindh chief secretary whether the government intended to carry out the satellite survey of Katchi Abadis in Karachi. The federal secretary had earlier said that once this survey was carried out, no other Katchi Abadis would be notified or regularised.

Former EDP of the Master Plan, 2020, Iftikhar Hussain Qaimkhani said that in 1985, there were more than 586 Katchi Abadis in Karachi alone, and added that they are increasing day by day, and this number is now approximately above 1,000. He further said that the south-bound Lyari Expressway can never be completed without the removal of Kacthi abadess adjacent to its planned boundary.

Plans are under way to hold a satellite survey of Katchi Abadis all over Pakistan, including Sindh, in order to facilitate the existing ones and also ensure that no such settlements are set up anymore.

The survey would be carried out by SUPARCO and the Geographical Survey of Pakistan in the name of the “Survey and Development Plan of Kacthi Abadis”, and this is being done under the Prime Minister’s 100 days action plan.

Federal LG Secretary Saleem Khan Jhagra told The News that there are at least 700 Katchi Abadis in Sindh, with more than half of them in Karachi. He added that the last such survey was carried out in 1985, and there is an urgent need for another such survey, especially as Katchi Abadis are on the increase. Moreover, its growth could only be stopped through a satellite survey, as a human survey is not possible at the moment, he maintained.

Jhagra further said that in most of the Katchi Abadis, railway land has been encroached, and for this reason, Pakistan Railway has agreed to cooperate with the Centre for this survey. He also said that the government would also seek help from former Katchi Abadis Director General Tasneem Siddiqi, and his expertise and prior experience could be useful. He also informed that the Punjab government has updated Katchi Abadis till 2006, while the two other provinces have very few such settlements, whereas only three such Abadis have been regularised in Islamabad.

It may be noted that there are a number of claimants of a single plot, and this is causing a great hurdle in carrying out the survey. Former Prime Minister Mohammed Khan Junejo had regularised certain Katchi Abadis, and also announced that no further Katchi Abadi would be accepted.

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