KARACHI: The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) with regards to the demolition of Aladin Shopping Mall has left shopkeepers in loss that amounts to millions of rupees with no hope of compensation. Furthermore, the SC hasn’t held any person or provincial institution accountable for this negligence in its order.
Aladin Shopping Mall was constructed in 1995 on Rashid Minhas Road during the government of late prime minister Benazir Bhutto. At that time, no objection was raised by the Karachi Development Authority (KDA), Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), and other watchdogs in the province.
A shopkeeper said, “I purchased a shop five years ago for a sum of Rs8 million. Now we have made an additional investment of Rs2-3 million on it to set up a food court here. I invested here as it was an old market and there was no objection over this building at that time.”
According to the sources in KDA, Aladin Shopping Mall was constructed on an empty KDA plot close to Aladin park. The Sindh government along with SBCA and KDA approved the building plan. Manzoor Kaka was the head of the SBCA at that time, who was also considered to be the right-hand former president and co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari. After the opening of inquiry against him, he escaped the country.
The SC took the decision to raze illegal constructions in 2015 through a suo moto action when a number of complaints regarding the garbage dumps, illegal constructions of flats/apartments, china cutting, dilapidated road infrastructure and others were received.
The SC had asked the authorities in Karachi to demolish all the illegal constructions and restore the city to its original master plan. In this regard, Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed, who has been hearing this case for the last seven years, also directed the authorities to raze Alladin Shopping Mall.
On the directive of the SCP, Karachi commissioner along with KMC administrator and Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) demolished Aladin Shopping Mall and Pavilion End Club at Rashid Minhas Road on Tuesday.
Both buildings were demolished with heavy machinery during the anti-encroachment drive on Tuesday afternoon, the area police officer confirmed The Correspondent.
Shopkeepers of Aladin Shopping Mall started protesting as the administration began demolishing their shops but senior officers of police, who were present on the spot, controlled the situation.
The sources have said that some of the shopkeepers were also arrested on the spot but were released later.
Meanwhile, the KMC administration also started removing encroachments along the banks of Gujjar and Orangi nullahs today. The KDA and Karachi commissioner have to submit their report before the SCP on Wednesday (June 16).
“The land of Aladin Shopping Mall was unlawfully converted into a commercial area,” Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed said yesterday while hearing a case relating to illegal constructions in the city.
The chief justice had also instructed the police and rangers to begin the operation immediately. “Permission for commercial activity on land allotted for parks won’t be given at any cost,” he said.
The court ordered the government to vacate the UBL Complex on Rashid Minhas Road and 36,000 illegally carved-out plots.
During the hearing, the Supreme Court also revoked the stay order on the anti-encroachment drive along the banks of Gujjar and Orangi drains, which stopped the work of demolishing “illegally constructed leased houses” on Gujjar and Orangi nullah.