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Lack of command and control system led to beach incident

KARACHI: The negligence of respective departments and ruthless high tide of sea are being held responsible for killing of 36 persons. The most vital aspect of establishment of command and control system was being overlooked in this regard.
Command and control system was put in place at the site of tragedy some 35 years ago during Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto tenure. The owners of the land adjacent to this area for recreational activities are still making rounds of Supreme Court (SC) for obtaining ownership rights.
Sources said the persons who occupied the land illegally started digging process after the said land was auctioned. The real owners of the land resorted to Court to acquire the land however the government and Defence Housing Authority did not pay any heed to fill the ditch. Every year several people are drowned in this ditch.
The then Sindh Finance Minister Syed Sardar Ahmad sold out this land through auction in 1998 rather than handing over the possession of it to the original landowners.
As per information made available loss of 36 precious lives is offshoot of conflict going on between government of Sindh and Karachi Development Authority (KDA) since long.
Government of Sindh and city government of Karachi claimed their right on selling out and utilising this land for several years. At one stage when Sindh government privatisation committee leased out land adjacent to hyper star the then KDA had declared this process illegal.
The real owners of the land were forced to make rounds of KDA first and then Defence Housing Authority.
The then Director General of KDA SM Misbah through a letter August 7, 1998 had opposed leasing out 22 cusecs land on coastal line and threatened to resort to legal proceedings. The lease process was stalled following this threat.
KDA was of the view in 1998 coastal land would be used for commercial purpose after it was leased and the picnickers would be deprived of their right of picnicking. In consequence of this process carried out by KDA the right of the citizens on picnicking remained reserved but the ditch dug out therein was not filled in. This way it kept on swallowing the picnickers.
SM Misbah was of the opinion he had gone to Saudi Arabia performing Hajj and in his absence meeting of privatisation committee was convened in April 13, 1998. KDA subordinate officers were summoned but they were not heard. KDA scheme in Clifton under the name of Khehkshan was proposed in 1958 and its notification was issued on October 6, 1994. The then Zulfikar Ali Bhutto worked out plan to construct a park and sports ground. 22 cusecs were provided for this purpose and later KDA auctioned 22 cusecs through tender in 1975.
Sources said the then Sindh government decided to auction the respective land but the KDA opposed it.

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