The Supreme Court came down on the Sindh government Wednesday over delays in the compensation for the people who lost their homes through forced evictions at the Orangi and Gujjar nullahs. “Shame on you [Sindh government],” Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said.
At a hearing in the top court’s Karachi registry, the judge asked the Sindh Attorney-General for updates on the land being compensated to over 6,000 affectees.
“The government has finalised 250 acres of land and over 6,500 houses will be built on it,” the AG replied. “The construction will begin once we get Rs10 billion from the Bahria Town funds.”
This irked the Supreme Court. “What do you mean? Why does the government link everything with the Bahria funds?”
“The Sindh government has a shortage of funds and is facing financial constraints,” the attorney-general argued, “the province has a right over the money.”
“But you have already recovered your money. Why are you claiming this amount,” Justice Ahmed asked. “The decision regarding these funds will be taken when a commission is formed.”
He retorted that the government has money to pay salaries and buy cars but when it comes to compensating poor people, their pockets go empty. “Are cities run this way? Is this your system?”
If you don’t have money, take these affectees to the chief minister and governor’s houses or the assembly buildings, the chief justice said. “Go to World Bank and IMF for money. You do that for other things too right?”
The attorney-general replied that the government borrows money for development projects that are already underway.
The top court said that action is never taken against officers involved in illegal allotment of land. “Your priorities are something else and compensation for the nullah evacuees isn’t one of them. You have a budget of trillions of rupees but you don’t have money for 6,000 people?”
The chief justice said that Sindh is the second-largest province in the country, according to population, but it’s in shambles right now. Karachi has been turned into a garbage can. All the buildings here are illegal, the stormwater drain overflow at a single drop of rain, the roads are in terrible condition, and there’s no greenery at all.
“Go look at other provinces. Learn something from them. You’re punishing the people of Karachi. Shame on Sindh government.”
Resettling the affectees is the state’s responsibility and we have to find a way to do that, the court pointed out.
The court has instructed Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah to resettle the victims within a year and summoned a report on it. “You don’t come into politics to fight, but to serve the people,” Justice Ahmed concluded.