KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over the senior member Board of Revenue’s report on removal of encroachments on state land and observed that half of government land in Sindh was encroached.
Hearing applications over failure to computerize the revenue record in the province and encroachments of public parks in Karachi, the SC’s three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, observed that the revenue department had not taken any action to retrieve the government land despite court directions. The court observed that the entire Karachi state land was encroached but the senior member board of revenue had reported only nine cases pending before anti encroachment tribunal. The court observed that the Senior Member Board of Revenue (SBR) has indicated zero encroachments in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Larkana and Benazirabad and referred none of the cases before the anti encroachment tribunals.
The court observed that officers of the revenue department were working to benefit persons other than the state and termed them as ‘compromised people’ who are hand in glove with the encroachers mafia. The court observed that half of the Karachi’s state land was encroached including Korangi, Malir where multistory buildings were constructed even on encroached land in the Malir river bed.
The court observed that government land ahead of the University Road was allotted on fake documents. Inquiring the SMBR of how many illegal buildings were removed. The bench also observed that court orders have not been complied with despite lapse of three years and asked why the case of SMBR should not be sent to the Establishment Division for disciplinary proceedings for non compliance. The SMBR Shamsuddin Soomro, submitted to ensure compliance of the court directives and presenting the report within one month. He had earlier informed the SC that 70 percent of encroachments were removed and the land was retrieved. The court however rejected the report.
The court directed revenue department of KPK and Balochistan governments to submit report on removal of encroachments on state land and computerization of land record. The KPK additional advocate general submitted that 88 percent of revenue record was computerized and assured the government will retrieve encroached land.
The Supreme Court observed that K-electric had minted billions of dollars by replacing copper wires with aluminum and fleecing the people of Karachi. Hearing application with regard to establishment of K-Electric grid station on greenbelt in PECHS, the court observed that K-Electric was involved in commercial business by blackmailing the citizens. The court observed that nobody knows of the actual owner of K-Electric and where was it actually registered and it would not come as a surprise if it was found that the company represented a country with whom we may have not proper relations. While ordering removal of installations, the court observed that K-Electric could not be allowed to use greenbelt for the grid station as it was not a public entity. The KE’s counsel submitted that grid station was supplying electricity to the 36,000 consumers of Mehmoodabad. The court directed the counsel to seek instructions from the KE for shifting the grid station from the greenbelt.
The bench also took exception over allotment of playgrounds and public parks in PECHS and observed that the PECHS administration had turned one of the beautiful areas of the city into a slum. The court observed that PECHS had allowed residential plots to be turned into multistory buildings and allotted amenity plots for construction of houses which were removed by the court. The court inquired PECHS counsel as how the scheme of PEHCS mater plan could be changed.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court directed the registrar and administrator of Cooperative Housing Societies to cancel the illegal 32 plots carved out from amenity land of a 48-acre housing society in Gulshan-e-Maymar. The court took notice over the incompetence of National Accountability Bureau’s inquiry officer Ausaf and directed Chairman NAB to ensure that a competent investigation officer was appointed to pursue the cases.
The court was hearing a petition seeking action against the illegal encroachment on a public park in Al-Habib Cooperative Housing Society in KDA Scheme 33. The court had earlier referred the case to NAB for investigating illegal allotment of society’s amenity lands. The court inquired the secretary Cooperative Housing Society as to why the illegal 32 plots carved out from amenity land were not cancelled. The accused submitted that they were on bail and facing reference before the accountability court. The court observed as to why the state has become so helpless that the accused involved in reference were roaming freely. The court also inquired NAB investigation officer as to why application for cancellation of accused’s bail was not filed and observed that investigation officer was unaware about the details of the case pending for last 14 years. The court directed secretary cooperative housing societies and the administrator to cancel the 32 illegal plots and retrieve the land as per layout plan.
The court directed chairman NAB to look into the matter of affectees and ensure they are compensated after recovering from the fraudsters. The court also issued show cause notice to the accused. The court was earlier informed by affected residents that a former secretary of the society, Athar Alam, and his relative had allegedly converted the park land into residential plots and sold them. They submitted that their plots were allotted to others and they were given alternate plots carved out of the amenity land
In yet another hearing, the Supreme Court took notice of illegal construction of two floors on a heritage building at Denso Hall, M.A Jinnah Road and directed secretary cultural to take action against unauthorized construction and restore the building to its original position. The unauthorized construction could be dangerous if it collapsed, it observed. The court inquired secretary cultural as to what was his department doing to protect the heritage buildings. The court observed that many heritage buildings at M.A Jinnah Road and Burns Road have been neglected and are lying in a dilapidated condition. The court also expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of Commissioner Karachi for failing to protect heritage sites. Regarding shifting of NAPA from Hindu Gymkhana, the court directed advocate general Sindh to look into the matter of NAPA’s relocation from Hindu Gymkhana to appropriate place.