ISLAMABAD: Thousands of slum dwellers in Islamabad got upset over the Islamabad High Court (IHC) verdict on February 7 that directed the Interior Ministry and the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to remove all the illegal slums in the capital within a month.
Speaking to this scribe over court’s decision, slum dwellers said that top political leaders, including senior officials of the Capital Development Authority – who had vowed to champion the cause of the poor – were ignoring their (dwellers’) miseries.
According to sources, the CDA is preparing to abide by the court’s decision and has planned to demolish squatters’ settlements before March 12 that have mushroomed over recent years in sectors F6, F7, G6, G7, G8, H9, H10, I9, I10, I11 and other parts of the city.
These slums include the Musharraf Colony in G8, Miskeen Colony in G8, Shopper Colony in G7, Allama Iqbal Colony in G7 and Gora Colony in H9. Most of these have been established along nullahs, which flow through the heart of the capital.
The eviction programme is part of a big project to clean up Islamabad of katchi abadis and ensure its security.
The slum dwellers, who describe themselves as “landless and poor people”, have no idea as to who is responsible for their plight.
Residents of these slums belong to various sects, regions and religions, but most of them are Christians from central Punjab or Pashtuns from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Rana Naveed Qamar, 40, a resident of Miskeen Colony G8/4, told Daily Times that his father had migrated from India to Karachi in 1947 and he had been living in that slum since 1996.
He said there were over 370 houses in the colony where more than 2,000 people were residing. “The government is telling us to go. But where shall we go?”
The residents of this colony are also deprived of basic facilities. They complained that both the Islamabad Electric Supply Company and the CDA frequently disconnect their electricity and water supply, and they had to spend days without electricity.
Fatima Bibi, also a resident of a colonu near the nullah, said that every year during the monsoon season, the water level of the nullah raises and water enters their houses.
The katchi abadi cell has estimated that the slum areas’ population had grown to 100,000 in Islamabad. The slum dwellers demanded that the government should provide them plots with adequate facilities in case of removing them from their houses.
Meanwhile, the CDA chairman held a high-level a meeting in his office soon after the order of the IHC to discuss various options, including launching a grand operation with the help of the police and the Islamabad administration, and talking to the slum dwellers to relocate themselves elsewhere.
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