KARACHI    -    A protest demonstration was held on Sunday outside Karachi Press Club against the demolition of the housing unit coming in way of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) track.

Civil society, human rights, women’s rights and labour rights organizations and the KCR affectees under the banner of “KCR Action Committee” participated in the protest demo from Regal Chowk to Karachi Press Club.

The Sindh government, however, assured the affectees for their resettlement on emergency basis after the provincial ministers including local bodies minister Saeed Ghani, advisor to CM Sindh on Information affairs Murtaza Wahab, energy minister Imtiaz Shaikh and others also attended the rally and expressed solidarity with the affectees.

Speaking at the rally, Local Bodies Minister Saeed Ghani said that they had asked the court to consider the issue of resettlement of the affectees before demolishing the houses.

“The chief minister Sindh has also directed the PDMA to provide temporary shelter to the affectees and further arrangement for their permanent residence is also under consideration,” he said adding that they would ensure all possible help to the affectees.

He also assured that resettlement of the KCR affectees would be made on emergency basis.

Earlier, the protesters said that despite their basic rights guaranteed under the constitution which the government has to oblige, no scheme was initiated to provide decent and dignified housing for its citizens since the government of the late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto.

Poor and middle class of Pakistan has had to fend for themselves. The citizens of the country have been left at the mercy of private land developers, who sell land at exorbitant prices.

There is a bureaucracy that is supposed to work on the regulation of land and housing but it is highly ineffective and is subversive to its mandate. Katchi Abadis and unregulated housing schemes present ample evidence of the government’s messed up mechanisms.

As a result of the government failing to provide housing for citizens, most people, who do not know about government regulations, end up getting so-called illegal access to land, electricity and water.

Hence, they are vulnerable and have to face eviction from their houses which they have constructed with their hard-earned money. The recent example in this regard is forceful eviction of the affectees of Karachi Circular Railways (KCR).

The protesters in the rally maintained that they were not against the public interest project of Karachi Circular Railways but reports of over 4000 housing units coming under demolition drive should be taken seriously and alternate arrangements be made before carrying out any drive.

The rally also demanded that a large number of women are affected due to this demolition drive, therefore, the Sindh Commission on the Status of Women should be designated a task to review and make recommendations for the proper rehabilitation and resettlement of women affectees of the KCR project. Furthermore, affected children are out of schools. Therefore, temporary schooling should be provided to the children to save their educational year.

Civil rights activist Jibran Nasir said that he had filed a petition against the apex court order and the court should listen the affectees before demolishing their houses.

“There is a heat wave warning in the city and the affectees are on the mercy of weather living in open along with their families,” he said.