lyari expressway
The dynamics of displacement
Mega-projects carried out in the name of urban development have significantly impacted those who were displaced from their abodes. Kolachi investigates the human cost of some of these projects, and reports on those who lived through the phenomenon of displacement
By Saad Hasan
Amana Jabeen used to live in the congested locality of Gharibabad, along the Lyari River. When the Lyari Expressway project was first announced, she was among those whose house was bulldozed in front of her own eyes. The experience was traumatic then, but five years later, she does not regret her displacement.

BACKGROUND
Hitches in proposed plan
mar LEW completion
By Saher Baloch
The completion of Lyari Expressway (LEW) project that has so far displaced around 28,000 families is being delayed due to faulty planning and mismanagement on part of the stakeholders.

northern bypass
Displaced but rehabilitated
By Samia Saleem
The Northern Bypass project started in the year 2002, but the project was marred by the collapse of the bridge located at Shershah, alongside the Northern Bypass. The bridge caved in on Sept 1, 2007 -- only a month after its inauguration, killing six people.

preedy street
An inconvenient bargain
By Zeeshan Azmat
The Preedy Street project, part of Signal Free Corridor-III (SFC-III), is another project which displaced thousands of people in Lines Area and Preedy Street. The affected were rehabilitated at Mehmoodabad No21/2, at an open space available besides the Sewerage Treatment Plant.

Our city of paupers
By Ahmed Yusuf
A couple of months ago, I met four Siraiki-speaking labourers who had been hired by an uncle of mine to aid his process of shifting homes. "Where do you live?" I asked Ashfaque, one of the labourers. "Lyari Expressway, Sahab." But there is nothing on Lyari Expressway per se, the authorities had removed all settlements from there, I reasoned.

 

The dynamics of displacement

Mega-projects carried out in the name of urban development have significantly impacted those who were displaced from their abodes. Kolachi investigates the human cost of some of these projects, and reports on those who lived through the phenomenon of displacement

By Saad Hasan

Amana Jabeen used to live in the congested locality of Gharibabad, along the Lyari River. When the Lyari Expressway project was first announced, she was among those whose house was bulldozed in front of her own eyes. The experience was traumatic then, but five years later, she does not regret her displacement.

Still in her twenties, she has become headmistress of a girl's school which does not take tuition fee, gives text books and uniforms for free and runs door-to-door campaigns on national holidays to raise enrollment.

There are around 12 such schools funded by Baitul Maal which run in part of Taiser Town designated for affected families of Lyari Expressway (LEW). "Coming to school is completely a new experience for most of the children here," Jabeen told Kolachi in a recent visit to the area. "Before their resettlement, they never had the opportunity to go to school. This is why you can find 12-year-old students in kindergarten." Shazia Abbas who lived near Moti Mahal in Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Khanum Sarfaraz from Sohrab Goth and Fauzia Hassan are other young women who were displaced from the Lyari River bed. They are all teachers now.

More than 27,000 families who lived on encroached river bed have been resettled in Taiser Town, Hawkes Bay and Baldia Township. It was regarded as world's largest resettlement for a road project when the work started in 2002. The brick-walled houses were vulnerable to flood, diseases and crime. According to authorities none of the displaced owners had land leases, which meant they were illegally occupying government land. Families living in these houses have been compensated with Rs50,000 and 80sq yard plot each at the three resettlement colonies.

It is painstakingly hard to weigh the pros and cons of displacement caused by the two-way 38-kilometre-long LEW that crisscrosses the city from Mauripur to Sohrab Goth. The real purpose of the expressway was to work as conduit for heavy traffic, which however, has been undermined by change in project design.

The green belts, trees and cleanliness, absence of wall chalking and irritating commercialisation altogether make resettlement colonies far better than localities based along Lyari River, which most time of the year carries city's sewerage to sea. But some people are genuinely unhappy. The settlements of Taiser Town and Hawkes Bay are more than 90 minutes drive away from city centre. Journey in public transport, which men use to go for work, is much longer and expensive.

Residents at Hawkes Bay Resettlement Site, which is known as Musharraf Colony, complain they receive water only twice a month. "There is no proper hospital here and even Edhi's service centre was established after a lot of struggle," a local told Kolachi. Despite a ban on property transfers, a lot of people have also sold their plots, which is obvious from beautifully constructed houses in resettlement colony.

Shafiq-ur-Rehman Paracha, Director Lyari Expressway Resettlement Project (LERP), acknowledges that many homes were still deprived of provision of utility services. "We have already paid Rs500 million to the KESC and KWSB. But you have to realise that electricity and water problem is faced by citizens elsewhere as well." He said that the total cost of resettlement has surged to seven billion rupees and about four billion rupees have already been spent on compensation, land acquisition and infrastructure development for the resettlements.

About allegations of misappropriation, Paracha explained the resettlement process was not easy. "National Highway Authority (NHA) identified the houses which were in way of expressway.

Revenue Department of CDGK prepared list of affected people and LERP helped in resettlement." Over the years, these illegal houses have exchanged ownership couple of times. The last residents were the ones who faced displacement. "There was no other way but to compensate them with cash and plots. However, it was decided that eligible families will be those living in the houses at time of demolishment and not someone who illegally owned the property."

But many displaced families have never been compensated at all. Some have just received plots and not the cash component to build houses. "This is because release of funds has been slow. Six months have passed and only 10 per cent of one billion rupees has been released for fiscal year 2009-10." While just 3,000 of the 30,000 budgeted plots are left to be allotted and it seems the project is near completion, three problem areas have emerged in way of the expressway.

Its southbound lanes, which carry traffic from Sohrab Goth to Mauripur Road, were opened for transport two years back. However, the northbound part is still bogged down in court cases. There are hundred of houses in Liaquatabad's block A, Hasan Aolia and Mianwali Colony that are properly leased properties. Residents are fighting tooth and nail with authorities to avoid displacement. Advocate Shaukat Sheikh has won a verdict in favour of these people from Sindh High Court. "According to the 2002 decision, the CDGK has to give these people 15 per cent over the market price of their properties in compensation." But, he said, the authorities never followed the order and started to demolish the houses. "A lot of people were made to leave with just Rs10,000 per sq yard. They had no other option. The leased property is worth millions of rupees and remaining families won't quit so easily," Sheikh told Kolachi.

 

BACKGROUND

Hitches in proposed plan

mar LEW completion

By Saher Baloch

The completion of Lyari Expressway (LEW) project that has so far displaced around 28,000 families is being delayed due to faulty planning and mismanagement on part of the stakeholders.

Having a total length of about 39 kilometres, the National Highway Authority (NHA) allotted the LEW to the Frontier Work Organisation (FWO) at a cost of Rs5.8 billion. The work on the LEW consisting of four lanes on both sides, with two interchanges, five overpasses and five underpasses commenced on May 11, 2002. The original completion date of the project was November 8, 2004, however, despite a lapse of more than five years and double the cost incurred on the project i.e. Rs11.82 billion, the project is still not completed due to various pitfalls in the major plan and the contradictory statements by the NHA.

The basic purpose of the LEW, according to the brief report prepared by the NHA, was to reduce the congestion on city roads by diverting the load of heavy transport vehicles (HTV). However, this did not happen as the NHA has restricted HTVs from taking on the LEW. As a result of this, the NHA has invited the wrath of residents of the encroached nearby areas who refuse to budge.

The Project Director, (retd) Major Syed Ahmed told Kolachi that "we've completed 75 percent of our work and only five kilometres is still left to be completed." However, he says that the major hurdle in the completion of the project is the encroachments in Hassan Aolia, Liaquatabad, Salahi Para and Mianwali Colony and the non-cooperative attitude of the Government of Sindh and City District Government Karachi (CDGK) in removing the "encroachers and not giving of the Right Of Way (ROW) to the NHA". He claims that there is an issue of pending payments to the NHA of around Rs194.9 million, which is delaying the project and at the same time the residents of these areas are asking for a high cost to leave their lands.

Tariq, a resident of the Hassan Aolia Village and President of Welfare Society says that the area they live in is a historic asset to Karachi and they are not going to leave it to suit the vested interests of a few people. "Their basic demand is to change the design of the plan so that the Hassan Aolia Village does not come in the way. For years we are being fooled by these people. There's a case pending in the Supreme Court against the project directors of the LEW and we do not want any money from them, we are awaiting justice," he explained.

Speaking about the bridge, Ahmed at first said that it is not for heavy vehicles, however, he later said that the reason heavy vehicles are not allowed on the bridge is the maintenance issue. "Once the entire project is completed, we will open it for heavy vehicles as well," he added.

As per the brief report prepared by the NHA, it is considering 'three different options' out of which the first one is to follow the original design, which according to Ahmed can not happen as they are facing tough resistance from the people of areas such as Hassan Aolia, Liaquatabad, Salahi Para and Mianwali Colony. They bluntly refuse to leave the land which was owned by their forefathers as according to them they are the rightful owners because the land is leased on their names.

The second option that could have been considered by the NHA was to construct the bridge in all the areas on the river bed from Sindhi Hotel to Mewashah (Mianwali Colony). But Ahmed says that to opting this would have meant an additional construction cost of Rs2, 961 million. Moreover, safety of the population living on the river bed could not have been ensured during floods as well as more encroachments on the river bed would have continued.

Lastly, the NHA are left with the third option of partial re-alignment of all the three encroached areas. According to Ahmed out of the three, the third is the most feasible, economical as well as less time consuming option, considering the economic stability of Pakistan.

The LEW has been discussed and debated upon a number of times with no productive results or conclusions. It is high time the authorities instead of 'hoping for the best' take some practical and informed decisions. Interference from the high-ups as well as a commitment from the federal government and CDGK for owning the project is the need of the hour.

 

northern bypass

Displaced but rehabilitated

By Samia Saleem

The Northern Bypass project started in the year 2002, but the project was marred by the collapse of the bridge located at Shershah, alongside the Northern Bypass. The bridge caved in on Sept 1, 2007 -- only a month after its inauguration, killing six people.

Located in the commercial industrial area of the city, the bridge had a direct impact on industrial traffic in the area. "Ever since the bridge collapsed, traffic here has gone haywire with heavy-load trucks and small vehicles all having to pass through the same narrow and broken roads. We were better off before, when there was no bridge and construction," said Muhammad Mehboob, owner of a flour factory located in the vicinity. "And since it was built by the government's own companies, there is no one to question them," he lamented.

There aren't many settlements that mark any significant population displacement due to the project. Since the entire length of the highway is located in the outskirts of the city, there do not seem many displacements which were carried out for the execution of the project. There are, however, a few illegal Goths alongside the Shershah bridge, such as the March Goth and the Mauripur Goth.

At the time of construction in 2002, these Goths were moved back with clearing a few of the settlements on the edges. "There were a total of 77 encroachers who we paid through the Revenue Department of the CDGK," said Mushtaq Ahmed Kalhoro, Director Construction of the Northern Bypass.

The evacuation was executed by the CDGK under the Revenue department, which paid a paltry sum of Rs50,000 as compensation per unit.

There were also some houses which were relocated in March Goth. Mohammed Ameen, a resident of the Goth, owned a house at the foremost corner of the village, which was demolished as per the construction plan and was given compensation. He was also promised a plot, which he has still has not been allotted, despite a lapse of seven years. "Due to a lack of space, I had to send back my family back to my village in interior Sindh," Ameen told Kolachi.

Mauripur Goth -- a mixed settlement of Balochs, Pathans and Sindhis, was also evacuated in parts. Unlike the largest displacement at the Lyari Expressway, there was hardly any relocation planned for these people, except for the Rs50,000 remuneration. Most people in the village still seem happy, as life for them has not been much affected by the new construction.

"These were illegal settlements but have now been incorporated into a town by the CDGK, the Mauripur Town, and is now managed under a separate department called Gothabad," Aijaz, a representative of the CDGK Revenue department told Kolachi.

The Northern Bypass recognised as the second shortest motorway and the longest bypass -- is known as M-10. The 56-kilometre-long track is located in the northern outskirts of Karachi, and this expressway was built especially for the Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and heavy traffic vehicles. 

The project was started under the patronage of National Highway Authority on land bought for Rs74 million from the city government. The project was executed in two packages: Package-I includes a 32-km-long road that starts from West Wharf at the ICI Bridge, and passes from Manghopir, RCD highway, up to Halkani Town. Package-II passes through the outskirts of Surjani Town, SITE, Gulshan-e-Maymar and ends at the Super Highway. This track is 24.638km long. 

The total cost of the venture was estimated at Rs2,201.17 million, but the completed project in 2007 cost a total of Rs3,197.54 million. Started on September 1, 2002, the only circumferential highway in Karachi was finished by NLC Engineers and ECI (Pvt) Ltd contractors on May 10, 2007.

"This project reduces travel time, vehicle operating cost, protects the city road pavements from heavy axle loadings, reduces pollution level, and improves the transport network serving the outbound and inbound Karachi port traffic," said Riaz Shah, project member at National Highway Authority.  

 Meanwhile, the bridge that collapsed at Shershah lies broken even after a lapse of almost two years. "It was supposed to be completed in November 2009, but the rubble is still there and it blocks the road and hinders smooth traffic flow," said Zahid Farooq, Director of Urban Resource Centre, a research institute.

By Samia Saleem

 

 

preedy street

An inconvenient bargain

By Zeeshan Azmat

The Preedy Street project, part of Signal Free Corridor-III (SFC-III), is another project which displaced thousands of people in Lines Area and Preedy Street. The affected were rehabilitated at Mehmoodabad No21/2, at an open space available besides the Sewerage Treatment Plant.

A survey conducted by Kolachi revealed that the new place might have had space to adjust the affected, but it does not have the basic necessities of life, including electricity and gas. A makeshift system has been arranged to facilitate some of the families living there, but there isn't a proper road network either.

Hundreds of those affected have been shifted to the new place, but the houses are still under construction. Many of them are still living in Lines Area on a rental basis till date, while most claim that they will shift to their new houses as soon as construction work is completed. There were also some who are awaiting the conclusion of the academic year of their children.

People who have been shifted to Mehmoodabad claim that they are happy to be at a new place, but they now have to spend more money on the purchase of household items, vegetables, fruits, meat and groceries. "This place is quite expensive as compared to Lines Area, as I have to walk all the way to the market to buy items," an inhabitant of the Block-B told Kolachi.

Another resident of the area said that there is no place for recreational activities for children. "They have to sit in their house all the time, and due to improper road infrastructure, they cannot even play outside the house," she added.

On the other hand, several affected sold the property they received to others at handsome rates after securing legal documents of their new houses. "At that time, the value of the land was over one million rupees, but now it is worth only Rs0.6million or Rs0.7million," residents of Lines Area told Kolachi. "Some of the real estate agencies also scammed many during the allotment process. They showed houses which were bulldozed, and claimed that these were for the affected. In return, they earned a plot in Mehmoodabad," claimed residents.

BACKGROUND

As many as 1,385 houses at the Preedy Street were demolished with approval from local residents so as to extend SFC-III, an 18-kilometre-long track, that is supposed to act as an alternative artery to Sharea Faisal and Sharah-e-Pakistan. The entire project was completed in four months at a cost of Rs2.25 billion. The Preedy Street, which is a part of the SFC-III, spans 2.5km and the project alone cost around Rs203 million to the city government.

Approximately 1, 459 residential and commercial plots were distributed among the affected. The City District Government Karachi (CDGK) distributed Rs50, 000 as well as a plot to each affected, Dr Saif-ur-Rehman, Project Director, Lines Area told Kolachi.

Rehman said that there were five blocks that were identified for the affected. Plots in the 'A' category were allocated to people who were living in Lines Area before 1974, and measured 120 square yards. Plots in 'B' category were given to the families who came to Lines Area after 1974; these plots measured 80 square yards. Commercial plots of 20 square yards each are located in the 'C' category, he explained.

Replying to a question about whether resettling the affected near a treatment plant would be hazaradous, he said that the treatment plant is not functional and therefore there isn't any chance of harm to the people. "The affected have been shifted to an environment-friendly place and this is a far better place to live in than the previous location," he claimed.

Once the people allowed the authorities to demolish their houses on Preedy Street, the jon of labourers became much simple, as they completed 40 per cent of the work in 20 days. The completion of Preedy Street was targeted within three months due to the support and assistance of the public, and the authority concerned also appreciated this support wider interest of Pakistan and Karachi in particular, Rehman said.

 

Our city of paupers

By Ahmed Yusuf

A couple of months ago, I met four Siraiki-speaking labourers who had been hired by an uncle of mine to aid his process of shifting homes. "Where do you live?" I asked Ashfaque, one of the labourers. "Lyari Expressway, Sahab." But there is nothing on Lyari Expressway per se, the authorities had removed all settlements from there, I reasoned.

"We used to live where Lyari Expressway is built now, we had a proper house there," he answered. "Then the government Wallas came, and told us to go. They gave us 80-square-yard plots, and Rs50,000 to build a house with. I spent some of that in building the walls of my house, the rest was spent on trying to survive and make ends meet. I am still building my house, brick by brick, but my family has put up a tent house near one of the intersections on the Expressway. What can we do, our lives are all there, dependant on Lyari," Ashfaque said.

Karachi is home to many paupers such as Ashfaque, but whether him and those like him are treated as 'citizens' of the city is a contentious matter after all, not everything is the government's business these days. The other three labourers also shared similar stories, and it was clear that informal social protection through a network of familial, caste and biraderi relationships had ensured that the displaced managed to survive.

The history of Karachi has been plagued with ethnic and sectarian strife, especially in the decade of the 1990s, and accommodation of all competing groups and interests has now become troublesome. The rise of the elected form of city government intersected with the rise of the 'global cities' rhetoric, and this policy of modernisation has had its fall-outs.

 "The postcolonial city of middle-class neighbourhoods jostling with working class slums and refugee colonies is now giving way to high-rise apartment blocks and shopping malls. The spine of the city is shifting to a set of new highway corridors to the east, connecting luxury housing estates, five-star hotels and the campuses of the information technology companies with the airport. History is now seen mostly as a matter of preserving the colonial architectural heritage that might lend charm to the city and attract tourists," wrote Partha Chatterjee in his article 'A postscript from Kolkata: An equal right to the city'.

Chatterjee's arguments in the article revolve around the rise of urban democracy in Kolkata, and the competing interests that sought equal rights over the city. Using the example of football, he argues that the potentially problematic migratory population from East Bengal into Calcutta in the wake of partition was accommodated through sport, whereby communities rallied around football and the prestige associated with winning the local trophy, once the domain of the white colonialists. "Equality is a capacious and complicated concept, and the desire to have it can lead to the invention of many unsuspected strategies," Chatterjee concluded, with the hope that Kolkata will not become "a pale copy of some standard model of global city."

 Things could not be more different in Karachi: at a recent seminar organised by Shehri-Citizens for a Better Environment (CBE), eminent town planner Arif Hasan commented that the city government had a development plan of their own, only that its technicalities and efficacy could be fiercely contested. In short, the city government's view, till now, has been the model that Chatterjee described. "Elite politics in (the Middle East and South Asia) under pressure from international debtors and pursuing a free market policy is increasingly reluctant to provide housing and civic reform to those who have been left on the margins," explain Dr Kamran Asdar Ali and Dr Martina Rieker in their book 'Comparing cities: The Middle East and South Asia'.

It is perhaps for this reason that the federal government cannot be absolved of responsibility, given that free housing has been a component of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) manifesto. To its credit, a bill to regularise pre-1997 Katchi Abadis has been approved in the Sindh Assembly, the dynamics of what, who and where still remain to be seen.

Regardless, many displaced of our city have been dislodged from their historical abodes due to the mega-development that others are currently benefitting from. Opposition members from the PPP, Awami National Party and the Jamaat-e-Islami have often argued in the City Council that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)-dominated city government utilises the institution of the Council to encroach upon land. However, a number of cases have been lodged against the city government in the Sindh High Court for getting the land use status of amenity plots changed.

In the final analysis, those displaced in Karachi are victims of at least three factors that are beyond their control: lack of government intervention, the numerous land mafias operating in the city, and crippling poverty and inflation. In our 'global city' the facet of poverty and displacement remains an unresolved issue, and further creates a sense of deprivation in minority ethnic groups. This is bedded in the fact that the development of Karachi revolves around an investor-friendly facade, rather than a model of people-centric, inclusive  and sustainable development.

 

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