The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) to clean up all the nullahs in Karachi and clear out any encroachments near them.
The directives were issued by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed, which has been hearing a petition related to encroachments on nullahs in the port city. The court also directed the Sindh government to assist the NDMA.
Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani presented a report to the court over operations undertaken by the authorities against encroachments. However, the court expressed dissatisfaction with the report and instead lambasted the Sindh and local governments over lack of progress.
The report said that Karachi has 38 major nullahs and 514 small nullahs which are under the control of the DMCs. The commissioner told the court that the NDMA was working on cleaning only three major nullahs of the city. The commissioner told the court that people had been living on land encroached on the mullahs for the last ten years.
“Sindh government has done nothing for the people. You did nothing in the last 20 years,” remarked CJP Ahmed. He added that neither the Sindh government nor the local government was working on removing the encroachments.
To this, the advocate general Sindh intervened and informed the court that when the government goes to remove the encroachments, people start “attacking” them. He added that a “law and order situation” gets created.
“This is the writ of your government. Where is the writ of the government in Karachi?” asked the CJP to the government lawyer’s response. He remarked that the city was full of sewerage water and people walk on streets by placing stepping stones on the water.
The CJP also remarked that the Sindh government was a “complete failure” and its people were only enjoying themselves.
“You have turned Karachi into a village,” lambasted the CJP.
The advocate general, after seeing the judge’s wrath, said that he was committing to the court that Haji Limo Goth encroachment would be cleared out within two months.
“Your commitment should be to the people. But what have you done for them?” responded the CJP. He added that the situation was the same from Karachi to Kashmore.
“This has become a province full of anarchy,” observed the court
“Who will improve the province? Should we ask the federal government to come and improve [the province]?” asked CJP Ahmed.
Meanwhile, Justice Faisal Arab also expressed his disappointment with the state of affairs in the province, deploring that people have to approach the courts for water and electricity.
“There is a mafia operating here. There is no law,” said CJP Ahmed. He added that the “complete government machinery” was involved in how the situation was in the province.
Federal government looking into matters closely
During the hearing, the attorney general of Pakistan informed the court that the federal government was closely looking into the matters of Karachi.
“We are looking at all constitutional and lawful options,” the attorney general informed the court. He added that Karachi was a metropolitan city and no one can see its metropolitan city being “destroyed”.
“I cannot give my final word on Karachi but a decision will be made soon,” the attorney general told the court.