Breakthrough at COP27 to Dubious DHA Property Tax; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

20 November 2022

Breakthrough at COP27 with Climate Justice Fund

The UN climate talks extended efforts this week at COP 27 to break a deadlock as nations tussled over funding for developing countries battered by weather disasters and ambition on curbing global warming, with wealthy and developing nations struggling to find common ground on creadng the fund only hours before the summit was scheduled to end. And, finally delegates from nearly 200 counties at the COP27 climate summit have agreed to set up a “loss and damage” fund meant to help vulnerable countries cope with climate disasters, in a landmark deal in the end. The campaign by the Global South towards convincing the world on protecting people from climate change finally gained breakthrough, winning the support at a global summit.

Pakistan`s climate minister Sherry Rehman, who chairs the G77+China group, had earlier expressed a willingness for “working with each other to find common ground”. And on the recent achievement she opines a deal will be the culmination of a 30-year campaign by developing countries. “If that happens today, that will be a historic reminder to vulnerable people all over the world that they have a voice and that if they unite”. She had also earlier called for international monetary commitments on loss, damage and adaptation due to climatic changes “to move faster than the speed of the glaciers melting in Pakistan”, while speaking at a high-level ministerial event on “Loss and Damage: From Intention to Action”, organised by the Pakistan government at the UNFCCC pavilion. She said the country required climate resilience funds that can be accessed with speed and scale. “As we navigate the finish line of intense negotiations at COP27, one thing is clear: climate finance is now at the heart of the climate emergency, whether it is achieving the Paris Goal of 1.5C, or delivering on adaptation and resilience goals”, she added.

Dubious Property Tax Valuations by DHA Karachi

The new valuation of the property taxation based on market value instead of the annual rental value (ARV) proposed by the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) has irked residents of the Defence Housing Authority (DHA). So the Defence Association Coordination Committee this week discussed the huge six to seven time increase in property and conservancy tax for Defence Housing Authority areas within the remit of the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) on the order of the directorate of military lands and cantonments. The residents believe that even if they do object to the proposal, the CBC may reconsider or allow them a discount of 10% only. And one still will have to pay the hefty sum while still buying water from private tankers. While a few residents also thought that the covered area of houses constructed prior to 1992 would not be considered for that tax evaluation.

Perils of Land Reclamation by DHA for Real Estate Greed

According to a official notice, the CBC has proposed a new assessment list for year 2022-2023 in accordance with Section 66 of the Cantonments Act of 1924 for the revision of valuations or assessments regarding property tax as require d under sections 67 and 72 of the Cantonments Act, 1924. The notice, however, has been rejected outright by most of the residents and owners of property within the DHA. They said that earlier the CBC based the system of calculation of the yearly property tax on the ARV. The residents resolved to file objections against what they called a draconian step of the CBC and the directorate of military lands and cantonments. A committee was formed to seek legal opinion to safeguard the interests of the senior citizens residing in DHA.

Land Grabbing in Lahore & RUDA Industrial Zone

Lahore seems to be a safe haven for criminals, especially land grabbers, who get away with their activities in most cases. The land grabbers have allegedly taken advantage of the mushroom growth of housing societies in a decade or so, depriving people of their valuable properties. And according to an estimate, the rise in the number of housing societies and massive business activities have added nearly 30% crime to the city. The land grabbers are on the rampage in Lahore as they easily obtain forged documents with the connivance of the mafias working for the housing societies to acquire land for housing projects either on lower rates or by force. In this regard the “dubious role of a senior police officer in dealing with land mafia is the talk of the town” as there were complaints that the land grabbers dispossessed the owners of their valuable properties under the nose of the police officer.

Ravi Riverfront Urban Project; a Greed of Land Developers

In the meantime the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) is all set to launch development work in the existing industrial area and the adjacent land falling within territorial jurisdiction of the Ravi Riverfront Urban Development Project. The total industrial area of the Ravi project consists of around 7,300 acres. Out of this, the existing industrial area consists of 2,500 acres or so whereas Ruda plans to develop a modern industrial estate at the remaining land measuring 4,800 acres. It mus t be noted the status of 2,500 acres where the industrial units exist is mentioned is agriculture land in the revenue record, however Ruda plans to change category or nature of this land to commercial or industrial citing “no agricultural activity is taking place in the existing industrial zone.”

Pakistan Flood 2022 ranks in the 10th Costliest Climate Disaster

According to risk modelling firm RMS the calamitous Pakistan floods of 2022 have been listed in  the 10th most expensive climate disaster to have buffeted a nation over the last decade, The floods inflicted an estimated loss of $3 billion on the country, caused over 1,700 deaths and displaced eight million people. The survey was carried out in the backdrop of deliberations at the COP27 climate conference in Egypt last week to hammer out a “loss and damage” mechanism that would determine, in monetary terms, the extent of destruction suffered by a country due to climate change.

The costliest disaster of the past decade was the California wildfires of 2017-18, with damages estimated to be around $328.5bn. This was followed by the Atlantic hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean in Aug-Sept 2017, which caused losses of $297bn. The Australian bushfires of 2019-20 cost $110b. This year’s Hurricane Ian that struck Florida in Sept 2022, Hurricane Ida that struck Louisiana, New Jersey and New York in Aug 2021, floods in Germany and Belgium in July 2021, Japanese typhoons Faxai and Hagibis from Aug-Oct 2019, this summer’s European heatwave and the North American heatwave from summer 2021 were also on the top ten. Yet the RMS observes that poor countries like Pakistan, which saw around eight million people displaced, often bear the brunt of devastating weather events.

62% Karachites lacks Formal Housing

The 6th International Conference on Urban and Regional Planning was organised by the NED university`s department of architecture and planning, with theme of this year “Urban Poor and Cities”. Speaking at the event, researcher Amal Hashim said “The country`s largest city, with an official population of 16.5 million people, has 62% of its citizens living in informal settlements where they face a host of issues ranging from lack of transport to quality education and healthcare. While Dr Muhammad Tufial noted “Urban planning has multiple dimensions and those need to be addressed by the academia in a robust manner”. However, he also believed urban planning, particularly of old cities like Karachi, was a complex issue and an integrated approach should be adopted by combining its engineering and social aspects.

In another presentation, Dr Josephine Baell, emeritus professor and distinguished research fellow, London School of Economics, shared the progress since a research was first conducted by her team on the involvement of formal and informal workers in municipal solid waste management in the cities of Faisalabad and Karachi in the mid-1990s. She also talked about the potential for Pakistan to mirror trends elsewhere, where informal waste workers or their enterprises were being formally integrated into municipal waste collection, retrieval and recycling systems and fairly remunerated.

Title Image- Courtesy- DAWN/Reuters

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