Bahria Town Karachi 2 and subverting the Kirthar National Park

by M. Wasim
Bahria Town Karachi 2 and subverting the Kirther National Park

The controversial land of Bahria Town Karachi 2 remains in headlines since a long time. In August the Sindh High Court questioned the Sindh government’ position with regard to alleged encroachment and land allotment in Kirthar National Park. A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Shaikh called the chief secretary to appear in person and directed him to ensure that not a single inch of the park was occupied by any builder or person. Despite according to prominent social activists, Bahria Town has occupied or subverted more than 10 thousand acres of land of Kirthar National Park, if the boundaries of the Park are juxtaposed as defined in the Gazette Notification of 1974. A number of videos are already circulating in media, depicting Bahria Town’ heavy machineries operating around Kirther National Park.

Bahria Town Karachi

Bahria Town has never been free of controversy in Pakistan. The firm is famed for luxurious Gated-community real estate developments, including top-notch high-rises, but the builder is known for trading indigenous people’s land with all key institutions in the country have blessed him in some or another way. The overall development of Bahria Town Karachi (BTK) is itself a classic example of unregularized construction. As in May of 2018, the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave a verdict: that BTK’s action of acquiring land in Malir and the Malir Development Authority, Sindh government was illegal. However, the Supreme Court discounted its decision in March 2019 and legalized BTK construction in Malir when BTK offered 460 billion to the government as penalty.

Bahria Town Karachi 2

The Bahria Town Karachi 2 has been launched almost a year ago, but the its land remained sub judice even before. A petitioner had petitioned the SHC in 2020 contending that the management of Bahria Town were allegedly facilitated to get illegally allotted and encroached upon the land of the Kirthar National Park. He cited the chief secretary, director of the Kirthar National Park, director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority, Bahria Town chairman Malik Riaz Hussain, its chief executive officer Ahmed Ali Malik and several others as respondents in the petition. However, the petitioner did not appear in court when the bench took up the matter for hearing that week. But the bench noted that it was an important issue and remarked “we deem it necessary to issue notice to the chief secretary”. The bench also observed the Kirthar National Park is said to be the third largest national park in the country and the court deemed it necessary to summon the chief secretary.

Bahria Town Karachi 2

It is significant to mention that in an another case against Bahria Town, before a division bench of the Sindh High Court comprising Justice Mohammad Junaid Ghaffar and Justice Adnanul Karim Memon the forest secretary had informed in April 30, 2023 the SHC that the “BTK-2 has been approved wrongly by the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and Sehwan Development Authority (SDA) on forest lands as evident from attested maps”. However, the forest secretary in the later hearing took different position.  

Kirthar National Park’ Significance

Kirthar was designated as a national park by Sindh Wildlife Department in 1974, the first of Pakistan’s parks to be included in the United Nation’s listing of National Parks of 1975. Additionally, it is classified by the IUCN as a Category II area. It is a complete biological indigenous ecological ecosystem with wildlife, forests, rivers, mountains and indigenous tribes. Wildlife in the park comprises of about 33 species of mammals including leopards, striped hyenas, Indian wolves, honey badgers, urial, chinkara gazelle, blackbuck & rare Sindh ibex as well as various families of reptiles and at least 147 species of birds.

A rare specie of Jackal died while a construction machinery hit he inside BTK

Unfortunately, the wildlife is not safe with the construction of Bahria Town Karachi. The Sindh Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1972 prohibits “breaking up any land, mining, and any other purpose” around Kirthar National Park. That’s why any construction surrounding Kirthar National Park is a violation of the Ordinance. But locals complain that Bahria Town is increasing its construction work and it never shies away even from removing historical places and harming Kirthar National Park.


Editorial, Infocus

Title Image; Courtesy to Hanif Bahtti

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