‘Where should we go?’: Thousands of people became homeless when Karachi cleared the waterway of global development

M.Little did 62-year-old Aqeedah Bibi know that the house she had lived in all her life would be demolished, forcing her entire family to become homeless. But on Monday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld the Sindh government’s bulldozing of his home and hundreds of others, and legalized the eviction of thousands of people living along the waterways. Drains – This cross cross Karachi.

The verdict came as Bibi and hundreds of others protested outside the court. “We hope the court will ask the government not to evict us, but the opposite has happened. Our children also protested on Sunday emphasized To prevent demolition, the Supreme Court seems to think that no one here cares about the future of the poor.

At least 8,000 houses have been knocked down along the drains. This is in response to the work that began in February 2020 Karachi floods He saw that the canals were blocked and the city was swamped. The World Bank is providing financial assistance to improve Karachi’s water and drainage system.

When people saw their homes reduced to rubble, civil society organizations approached the court to stop the evacuation. “Houses are not responsible for blocking waterways,” he said.

But on Monday, the Supreme Court rejected the petition.

While dozens of people told the Guardian that they were renting their homes, the court ruled that any land lease along the drains was illegal. Activists and writers have called the decision “unfair.” Fatima Bhutto, author of the Bhutto political family, tweeted: “Supreme Court decision is a tragedy.”

Maqsooda Bibi, on the right, tries to keep calm during a protest against demolition in Karachi.
Maqsooda Bibi, on the right, tries to keep cool during a protest against demolition in Karachi. Photo: Shah Mir Baloch

In an editorial, “Pakistan’s largest English-language daily,” Dawn said“Demolition of houses will continue within nine meters on both sides of Gujjar and Orangi canals. When this exercise is completed (before this year’s monsoon, as planned), at least one lakh Most of the 21,000 children will graduate from school and live in the open.

Bibi’s home has been her family’s home for five decades. She shares it with her four daughters and three sons-in-law. After they demolished our house, we all started living on the lawn but now they will snatch the lawn. First, they took refuge in us, now they will take our land.

Mohammad Shahid is a heart patient whose house was bulldozed a month ago. He expected justice from the court. He was at home when his house was bulldozed around 11 a.m. one morning.

We are helpless where do we go? We cannot die and live. I did my angiography and now I can’t work. My children are not well educated. My wife had a stroke, “says Shahid. He says that even the government has not given her 90,000 Pakistani rupees (10,410).

Muhammad Shahid on the wreckage where he had two rooms that were bulldozed.
Muhammad Shahid stands where two of his rooms were bulldozed. Photo: Shah Mir Baloch

Muhammad Aslam received some compensation for the loss of his house. But he says that’s not enough. “I want to return this money because it is of no use to the four families,” he says. He lives in a room and tent with 28 other people after being bulldozed into his two-story house. “We are worried in every way. There is no gas, no electricity or even sanitation. It is not alive,” Aslam said.

Architect and city planner Arif Hassan says the government had no “proper planning”. He said they were working not only to prevent floods but also to build long roads along the canals. Connecting the Lyari Expressway to the Northern Bypass, displacing the poor and benefiting the rich. “The World Bank should condemn the Sindh government, because forced evictions are against the bank’s policies,” he said.

Muhammad Abid Asghar was the first person to lose his home on February 2. Along with others, he set up the Gujjar Nala Victims Committee and went to the Sindh High Court with activists of the Karachi Bachao Tehreek (Karachi Bachao Movement).

With the development of demolition, bulldozers and destroyed houses in Gujar Nala.
Bulldozers and houses damaged in Gujarat نالہ, Karachi, along with the development of demolition. Photo: Shah Mir Baloch

After chanting anti-demolition slogans on walls around the city, activists say they were called to a meeting by a World Bank team in April.

“We were convinced that the bank was financing the evictions, but the World Bank denied this,” he said. He assured us that the rented houses would not be bulldozed.

Sindh Information Minister Nasir Hussain Shah also said that the World Bank was not involved in the evacuation. “The government will help rehabilitate the residents,” he said, adding that “no more than 5%” were against the demolition work.

The World Bank did not respond to a request for comment.

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