Karachi Land Misuse to Reko Diq Groundwater Concerns; Infocus Weekly Briefs

by M. Wasim

27 November, 2022

Land Misuse in Karachi

“Karachi`s land use, in spite of plans to the contrary, is being decided increasingly by large developers backed by politicians and not on the basis of environmental and social considerations.” It was remarked by notable urban planner Arif Hasan during his keynote address: “A yet undefined city” at the inaugural and plenary session at the Winter School on `Cities, Urban Change and Heritage Management through Geotechnologies and Digital Humanities”, organised by the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) in collaboration with Centre for South Asian Studies.

Trend of High-rise Construction on Karachi Seafront is Unsustainable

Arif Hasan said Karachi is a non Sindhi-speaking capital of a predominantly Sindhi-speaking province and many of its governance-related issues arise from this reality.  The coastal areas are also being reclaimed for similar purposes or for low income housing, observed Arif Hasan. While Dr Anila Naeem said that abandoned and vacant properties should not be left to the ad hoc whims of the market and that there was a need for framing proper policies for their appropriate usage.

Judiciary Concerns’ on Reko Diq Groundwater

Deeply concerned about the level of groundwater in Baluchistan, the Supreme Court questioned what adverse effects large-scale mining at the Reko Diq site could have on the groundwater level, as it is already scarce and fast depleting in Balochistan due to lack of rains. During the hearing of a presidential reference on the Reko Diq project, Justice Ijazul Ahsan , however, observes “This is just a thought that since the present mining operation is a water-intensive exercise and the ore after excavation would be crushed into powder and mixed with water before being sent through a slurry pipeline to the port”. He wondered fromwhere this water would come when it was already scarce in Balochistan and huge quantities would be used daily.

World Water Day
Groundwater; The Hidden Source of Life

In a hearing this week, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, who headed the five-judge bench, observed that one could imagine the wastage of water since so much water would be used in the project, adding that aquifers should not be depleted. Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Aamir Rehman said he would come with the required information later, but insisted that water was available at the site and large water reservoirs would be built for its preservation. The court, however, asked Additional Attorney General to come up with alternative solutions, at which the law officer said that he would look into the issue.

FBR extends Property Income Filing Date

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has announced this week to extend the last date for submission of details of property income till December 31, 2022. The FBR issued a notification in with a draft amendment to the Income Tax Rules 2002, which said that along with information about income, a form will also have to be submitted in which the details of income earned from the property will be recorded.

Time to Devolve Karachi Property Tax Collection

The FBR said that due to the ambiguity in the previous law, the new law was introduced, under which the form of income from the property was fixed separately and it would be submitted every year along with the filing of their tax returns. According to officials, this law was introduced under Section E of the Revenue Tax Ordinance 2001. Under the law, those who have submitted annual tax returns will also be obliged to submit details of income earned from property before December 31, 2022.

KDA’ New Affordable Housing Scheme

The Karachi Development Authority (KDA) has reportedly decided to launch a 25-story “People’s Sky View” apartment project in Surjani Town as part of a low-cost housing scheme. The project will be introduced at Surjani Town’s Sector B-7 of KDA Scheme 41. The apartment complex will be the first low-cost housing project by the government in the area, accomodting three and four bedrooms with the modern urban amenities.

According to the sources, the project will include 7 towers with 1,700 apartments.  A computerised ballot will be used to distribute the units, with renters receiving preference. The DG of KDA told the media that the project will be started and finished for Karachi citizens once it has been approved. It is important to note that the KDA recently launched a significant operation against land infringers in Surjani Town, which resulted in the recovery of thousands of plots from infringers.

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