Muhammad Zubair has six mouths to feed, but his business has been taken away from him in KMC’s recent week-long anti-encroachment drive.
He is depressed and doesn’t know what to do. Zubair ran a small paan cabin on II Chundrigar Road which was demolished some days ago. “I have a responsibility to run my six-member family, but I am not able to earn my daily livelihood,” says Zubair.
This is the story of scores of families in Karachi.
But KMC Anti-Encroachment Department Senior Director Bashir Siddiqui says he’s “just doing his job”. He says it’s the government’s job to provide alternative arrangements for those displaced in anti-encroachment drives.
Zubair said police and KMC staff approached him last week told him he’s not allowed to install a cabin and took it away. He now sells biscuits, toffees and other small snack items on the footpath.
“I was earning Rs600 in a day from my cabin, but now I only manage to make Rs300 in this time when everything is so expensive” Zubair said.
“These people don’t see the illegal charged parking business in the city. Why aren’t they stopping that? Its because they earn millions out of it,” a furious Zubair said.
The KMC cleared over 700 encroachments in its recent week-long campaign. It included removal of patharas, small stalls, cabins and counters set up by the working class to earn a livelihood.
KMC’s anti-encroachment department conducted operations in the Landhi, Shah Faisal Colony and Korangi areas of District Korangi.
Garden, Saddar, Empress Market, Ranchore Lines and MA Jinnah Road were covered from District South and Gulshan-e-Iqbal Block 13-A, 13-D, Gulistan-e-Jauhar, Mehmoodabad, Azam Basti from District East.
Encroachments were removed from Liaquatabad, Nazimabad, Gulberg, New Karachi and North Karachi in District Central and Baldia Town and Pak Colony in District West.
Siddiqui says 700 cabins, stalls and patharas were razed, while 180 illegal structures, including shelters, shutters and tehlaas were demolished.
SAMAA Digital asked the KMC official why these structures were razed and not confiscated.
“We demolished only those tehlaas and patharas that were set up again and again despite several warnings,” he said.
He said when KMC uses the confiscation method, the illegal structures are bound to return within 15 days of being fined.
The violation of rules by encroachers “compels” the KMC staffers to demolish the illegal structures, he said.
“Members of human rights organisations and non-governmental organisations visit my office on a daily basis and asked if I will take care of the poor people whose small businesses have been demolished by the KMC,” the senior director narrated.
“What should I do?” he asked, adding that when KMC doesn’t take action against encroachments, the same NGOs and human rights group yell at it for “not performing its duties” and “encouraging encroachments on roads and footpaths”.
He clarified that the anti-encroachment operation is continuing on the directives of the Supreme Court.
“I am only performing my duty as a government officer,” he said, adding that women and children visit his office daily and say it is difficult for them to even earn their daily bread and butter.