Sweepers’ Poor Residence in Narain Pura

CDGK sweepers to vacate 35-year-old rickety building

By Jamil Khan | KARACHI

RESIDENTS of a three-storey building located in Narain Pura have been forced to evacuate the dangerous structure, without being given any alternate accommodation or compensation.
The Meghji Bhagwandas Building, located at plot number RC-11/32, Narayan Pura, Union Council 5, Saddar Town was constructed in 1973 for sanitary workers of the defunct Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC). A majority of the current occupants of the almost 100 apartments are sanitary workers of various towns. The residents demanded alternate residents, stating that they could not arrange for new houses with their menial salaries. They claimed that the approximately one acre compound, Narayan Pura, was donated for low-caste workers by former Karachi Mayor Jamshed Naserwanji in 1924.
Officially, the building has 63 one-room flats with a kitchen and washroom but over the past 35 years, residents have constructed 16 additional rooms to accommodate the increasing number of families, while 20 huts have also been constructed within the compound limits. The residents claimed that not a single penny had been spent on maintenance of the building since its construction, which had led to the building being labeled a ‘dangerous structure’ by the Karachi Building Control Authority (KBCA).
“Due to the lethargic attitude of the concerned authorities, the building resembles a centuries old ruin and last year, the KBCA declared it dangerous to live in,” said former councilor, Nanji, known as Chairman by the residents. He added that City Nazim Mustafa Kamal and National Assembly member from NA-249, Dr Farooq Sattar, had promised maintenance but no such measures have been taken yet.
Tara Gulzar, a sanitary worker of Saddar Town, told Daily Times that the residents had drawn the attention of all possible authorities to the pathetic condition of the building but none of them seemed interested. “We spend the whole day cleaning roads and all the time, we are worried about our children, who we leave behind in this building which can collapse at anytime,” she said.
Another resident, Shahzad Masih, pointed out the dismal condition of the galleries and roofs, which had disintegrated at places and had become unfit for living anymore. “A couple of weeks ago, a major portion of the roof plaster fell when a group of girls were playing songs on the second floor, as part of a wedding ceremony. Luckily, no one received any injuries but the incident highlights the condition of the building,” he said.
Masih added that, till a couple of years back, the rent for a one-room flat rent was only Rs 400 but that had increased to Rs 1,136, which was deducted from their salaries. Residents of the Meghji Bhagwandas Building and the Narayan Pura mostly comprise Hindus, while many Christians and Sikhs also reside in the compound, which also houses three mandirs, a church and a gurdwara.
The city government’s Accommodation Department had tried to serve cancellation notices to residents of the building but not a single occupant received the notice. The Accommodation District Officer Riaz Ahmed Khatri told Daily Times that the notices were issued on the directives of the City Nazim. “We had tried to serve the notices but some of the residents created a law and order situation forcing us to abandon the distribution,” he said.
Regarding the inefficiency of the maintenance authorities, he said that under the Sindh Local Government Ordinance 2001, the department of repairing and maintenance was not handed over to the Accommodation Department. “After being appointed Accommodation District Officer, I had demanded control of the repairing and maintenance department but the department was never taken from the Works and Services Department,” said Khatri.
He vowed to serve the cancellation notices with the help of the Community Police but refused to specify a date. However, city government’s Sajjan Union-CBA President Syed Zulfiqar Shah said that the city nazim had promised to issue ownership rights to the occupants of the building and compound but rather, had started vacating the people who have been living here since partition.
Shah claimed that the city government was planning to vacate the land, located in the surroundings of the Civil Hospital, Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation and Urdu University, so that it could be used for political benefits but assured residents that the evacuation will be prevented at all costs.
– Published in Daily Times | Aug 12, 2008

~ by jamilkhan on August 15, 2008.

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