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Rangers, police ordered to remove check posts from Karachi parks

The Supreme Court ordered on Tuesday the Sindh Rangers and Karachi police to remove all their check posts from the city’s parks, playgrounds and footpaths.

The Sindh IG and Rangers DG have been ordered to submit a progress report in two months.

The court was informed that encroachments outside Metropole have been cleared.

There are more than 100 police check posts, said Justice Gulzar Ahmed. “They have ruined the cityscape,” he said. Finish all encroachments from parks and don’t occupy them, he remarked .

“Karachi starts from Surjani Town and New Karachi,” said the judge. “There is Gulshan-e-Myanmar and Bahria Town too now”. The judge, who was heading a three-member bench, said that encroachments should be removed from all parts of the city.

Related: Supreme Court worried by state of Karachi’s Sea Breeze building

He remarked that the government has a nonchalant attitude towards the case. There are encroachments in Liaquatabad, Sakki Hassan, Nazimabad, and Kati Pahari. “If you had to make a route through the hill then you could’ve dug up a tunnel and then you gave it such a bad name ‘Kati Pahari’,” he added.

The issue of embassies encroaching roads to set up security barriers was brought up too. The court has ordered the foreign secretary to submit a report on the occupation by different embassies in three weeks.

Sindh Advocate General Salman Talibuddin told the court that a notice should be issued to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over the encroachments outside embassies.

An official of the Sindh government said that embassies don’t let them remove security barriers because they say they have the foreign ministry’s permission.

Related: Khokha owners take Islamabad CDA to court

“They have permission to set up security checkpoints inside the embassy and not on the road outside it,” said Justice Ahmed. All the check posts outside embassies in Islamabad have been removed, he said.

He even chided the Sindh government for cutting the trees on Clifton Road because of the US Embassy. “This is a criminal act. Some of those trees were more than 200 years old,” he said.

Monsoon rains

The court came down hard on the Sindh government for its failure to solve drainage problems during the recent spell of monsoon rains in the city.

“The day it rain, all the news channels were showing the coverage surrounding Café Piyala,” said Justice Ahmed. “No one cared about what was going on with people.” The people were suffering and government officials were too busy drinking tea, he added.

Water is still stranded on roads and there is prediction of more rain, the judge remarked.

Justice Faisal Arab said that if the government had improved the drainage system then perhaps the lives of 22 people, who died of electrocution, could’ve been saved.

Related: Court angry with authorities over derailment of KCR project

The advocate general said that action has been taken against K-Electric in the electrocution cases.

The court asked the Sindh government what alternate plan it has if the Abraaj Group, which has stakes in K-Electric, leaves. K-Electric is their only successful venture, said Justice Ahmed.

K-Electric has failed in delivering anything. “They only sold all our copper wires and replaced them with aluminum ones,” the judge said. “Has anyone even conducted their audit?”

He remarked that a government cannot give its “sensitive core activities” to other companies. “You have all worked together to destroy city’s infrastructure,” Justice Ahmed added.

There has been no seriousness on part of any government, he said. The city government failed to deliver. The Sindh government has failed to deliver. What will happen if the federal government fails to deliver too, the judge asked. “Federal government wants to clean Karachi now. What if they fail?” No one seems to be concerned about the city, the judge added.

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