The KMC has decided to come down hard on welfare organisations (like Edhi, Chhipa, Saylani, the Alamgir Welfare Trust and others). Its anti-encroachment department has prepared a strategy to get rid of their cabins, offices, ‘dastarkhawans’ [places where welfare organisations feed the poor] and emergency response centres set up on footpaths across Karachi.
The anti-encroachment department is going to start the second phase of its operation next week, particularly targeting welfare services. This was revealed by Bashir Siddiqui, senior director of the KMC’s anti-encroachment department.
Siddiqui told SAMAA Digital that the operation is going to be conducted district wise.
“In the first phase, the anti-encroachment teams will conduct an operation in District East and District Central, where they will clear all the footpaths on main roads, including Sharae Pakistan, Sharae Quaideen, Shaheed-e-Millat and University Road, of encroachments, particularly the stalls, cabins and offices of volunteers’ services,” he explained.
He said a meeting would be held on Monday with the officers of District East and District Central to initiate the anti-encroachment operation.
“The district-wise operation will start from Tuesday,” he said, adding that in the first phase welfare services’ installations will be completely demolished. It will continue for three days, said Siddiqui.
He said the same exercise would be continued in District Korangi and District south in the second phase while ‘encroachments’ in the form of cabins, offices and dastarkhawans of the welfare services will be removed from District Malir and District west in the third phase.
The senior director said night operations in all six districts against encroachments by restaurants and hotels will also be continued simultaneously.
The KMC has already served two-day notices to the welfare services and told them to dismantle their installations on footpaths in the light of the orders passed by the Supreme Court. The court wants Karachi’s footpaths cleared.
Ramzan Chhipa of the Chhipa Welfare Organisation told SAMAA Digital that they are ready to cooperate with the KMC but believes there should be some alternative so that welfare organisations can still help the needy.
“We are bound to comply with the directives of the apex court, but the authorities should give us an option to continue serving humanity,” he added.
Welfare organisations like Chhipa and Edhi operate ambulance services and station their vehicles across the city to respond to emergencies. With the anti-encroachment drive, they won’t be able to park their vehicles on sidewalks, nor will they be able to operate them via their small offices. In the absence of a large government network of ambulances, that means it will probably take ambulances longer to reach people in need.
The anti-encroachment operation first began last November when the KMC demolished 1,500 shops in Umer Farooq Market around Empress Market. The KMC has already demolished over 12,000 ‘illegal’ shops in District South in the Light House area, at Regal Chowk, Khori-Garden, near the Karachi Zoo, Arambagh, Burnes Road, Lea Market, Bolton Market and its adjacent areas.
The epicentre of the anti-encroachment operation was District South where thousands of shops were razed during the eight-month period.