World Bank added it to KNIP
The Sindh government is planning to turn Karachi’s famous Boat Basin into a food street free from traffic.
This plan has been added to the World Bank Karachi Neighbourhood Improvement Project loans. Major (retd) Shaukat Ali Alvi briefed SAMAA Digital about the project on behalf of KNIP. Alvi is a civil and transport engineer who has been working at the KNIP’s Project Implementation Unit for the last two years.
He said that the food street project does not need an Environmental Impact Assessment or Initial Environmental Examination. “The project needs an Environmental & Social Management Plan as it is a rehabilitation project,” he said. The other two types of reports are mandatory for development projects, which are different. He said that “as the road already exists”, no EIA is needed.
Alvi said KNIP has submitted the environmental and social plan to the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency which grants the no-objection certificate.
He said the authorities have changed the plan for visitor parking. Initially, they decided to provide it at a park behind Boat Basin but it was not considered a good idea. “The parking would be allocated at the service road along Nehr-e-Khayyam,” he said. There will be a valet service.
Major (retd) Alvi claimed the KNIP team has held discussions with residents and shopkeepers who had no reservations. Alvi said the project should take seven months at an estimated cost of Rs800 million to Rs900 million.
G3 Engineering Consultants is on the project and a contractor will be finalized soon. They hope to do the ground-breaking next month.
Marvi Mazhar, an architect and conservationist, said the project seems to be an organizational infrastructural development plan if they are relocating the parking. She felt that KNIP should address the ecology of the area in the next phase. The authorities should pay attention towards infrastructure rather than beautification. “The core issue of Karachi is rectifying infrastructure,” she added. “Jumma, Jumma aath din Burns Road food street failure ko hoey nahi, aur yeh Boat Basin par aa gaye.” We have barely emerged from the failure of the Burns Road food street and they’ve landed here, she said.
SSUET’s Associate Professor Architecture and Environmental Design Department Fazal Noor told SAMAA Digital that the KNIP invited him and another architect to discuss the project. “We expressed concerns about parking and that they had not conducted an EIA,” he said. He did not agree with the idea of using the service road and felt it would lead to traffic jams.
“The Boat Basin culture is for people to eat inside their cars and we have advised the authorities not to close the street from both sides,” he added. He also referred to the Burnes Road food street failure. The government should evaluate its experiences trying to rehabilitate Empress Market, People’s Square and Burns Road Food Street, he said.
Environmental lawyer Zubair Abro said people who lived at Burns Road faced problems when that area was declared a food street. Consultation with residents is mandatory before moving ahead on such projects.
Commenting on the project’s E&SMP, Abro said this document is a part of EIA and IEE reports, and not valid as a separate document when it comes to initiating any project. The EIA and IEE reports contain a baseline study of a project’s impact on the environment, ecology and social life of the people. These reports are submitted along with the E&SMP. “The Environmental & Social Management Plan is a document which shows how the environment of that specific area sustains after completion of the project,” he said.
For his part, the president of the Boat Basin shop owners association, Naeem Sajjad, told SAMAA Digital that the government discussed the plan. “It is a good plan to improve the condition of Boat Basin, but we submitted a few recommendations to the government,” he added. “They need to open a food street from the KFC side, so that visitors enter the food street and park along the footpath.” There is a distance of around 28 feet from the restaurant spaces to the footpath. They need to just make a walkway at about six to seven feet, he said.