The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation has razed more than 100 footpath dastarkhawans to the ground in the last two days as part of its anti-encroachment drive.
KMC says it is removing the roadside setups on orders of the Supreme Court. But has it arranged any alternative for the thousands of people who rely on these dastarkhawans for their meals at least twice a day?
Welfare organisations are likely to take a big hit in donations too because of these demolitions.
Philanthropist Ramzan Chhipa of the Chhipa Welfare Organisation says they stand with the authorities in their compliance, but the government, in consultation with the welfare organisations, could make arrangements for the continuation of these dastarkhawans elsewhere to provide meals to the poor two times a day.
“We are cooperating with the anti-encroachment staff of the KMC in its operation, but the authorities should think over the issue on humanitarian grounds,” Chhipa said.
KMC Anti-Encroachment Department Senior Director Bashir Siddiqui, meanwhile, says that the department is going to penalise welfare organisations this time if their installations are set up again after the removal.
A fine of Rs15,000 to Rs25,000 will be imposed as per Rule 7 of the Anti-Encroachment Act, 1973, he said.
KMC started its drive against the installations of welfare organisations from District Central on Tuesday. Around 50 dastarkhawans and other installations were removed from the footpaths in Golimar, Gulberg, Nazimabad, North Nazimabad, Godra, New Karachi and Sohrab Goth.
District East was next.
Another 50 setups were razed from footpaths near Gulshan Chowrangi, Teen Hatti, Numaish, Shaheed-e-Millat Road, Sharae Quaideen, Lines Area and Sharae Faisal.
The remaining four districts will be targeted over the next four days.
The KMC senior director said that the corporation has planned its anti-encroachment operation in two phases: encroachments by welfare groups will be removed in the mornings and by restaurants in the evenings.
No welfare activity is being allowed on footpaths as per court orders, he said, adding that KMC has stopped issuing challans for the set up any type of stall, cabin or shop on footpaths.