The land mafia’s rackets: A disaster foretold – Pakistan

Land grabbing of real estate empires in Malir and Jamshoro has generated a number of criminal companies in the area.

The final part of "Bahria Town and others: unconsolidated greed" analyzes groundwater extraction and groundwater extraction in Malir and Jamshoro.

In a situation where the final result is what counts while the law is trampled, the appropriation of land in Malir and Jamshoro has given free rein to a number of criminal companies in the area.

On a hot summer day in mid-May, at least half a dozen dumpers were parked along the banks of Mole Naddi, a seasonal stream that falls into the Malir River about 30 miles north of Karachi. Several excavators removed large quantities of river sediment. One of the dumper drivers, Omar, crossed over to chat. He said Sunrise that about 65 dumpers make three round trips every day, 24 hours a day.

"Almost all the retired It is for Bahria, although some go to the city. Because of Ramazan, it's a bit quiet because many of the drivers here are from Swat and Shangla and go home to look for Eid. "

Dumpers coming and going raising sand from the Mole naddi riverbed. -White Star

A wide track without carpet has been created especially to transport sand and gravel dredged from the riverbed. It extends from Mole Naddi to Malir and Bahria Town Karachi (BTK). Even during Ramazan, in a span of 20 minutes, the Sunrise The team witnessed at least five dumpers in the direction of BTK, with its wheels raising dust clouds in its path.

According to Malik Asad Sikandar, the powerful tribal chief of the area, the extraction of sand is "completely legal and is carried out by locals based on leases. [from the government]".

However, according to the Sindh Act (Prohibition of taking minerals including Reti (sand) and Bajri from any land) of 2003, no exception can be made or sanction for such excavation "if it negatively affects topography, archeology, ecology and environment of that area. "

Influential premises, including the Kumdar and other opportunists in
The mafia land service, they are making money deliver the fist of
Several rackets in the area.

The extraction of sand and gravel here has serious consequences in the short and long term. "All this is the support area for Kirthar National Park," said Rakhman Gul Palari, a professor in the Sindhi department of Karachi University. “The park's ecosystem is all interconnected. Wildlife sanctuaries, hunting sanctuaries, all depend on the area remaining in their natural state. "

Kirthar is the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Pakistan after Hingol. Chinkara gazelles, urinals, hyenas and the rare Sindh ibex are among the many animals found there.

The extraction of sand and gravel has also devastated farmers: the sand slows the flow of water, acting as a filter before the water seeps into the ground. Wholesale looting of the riverbed disrupts that process, and the water table in large parts of Jamshoro and Malir has sunk to critical levels.

“We used to extract water from a depth of 40 or 50 feet; now it is 200 feet away, "said Karim Burfat, who grows vegetables in a field very close to Mole naddi." A thick layer of sand covers everything. The crops are ruined and the grass that sustains the cattle is burned. "

Read part 1 of this article: City of Bahria and others: greed unleashed

Fiefs built on sand

The resistance is useless: some who have tried to avoid the lifting of sand have been beaten and thrown into the police precinct.

While farmers like Karim witness their livelihoods wither, influential locals, including kumdar and other opportunists at the service of the land mafia, are making money delivering the fist of the various scams in the area.

Four years ago, one of them worked in a grocery store; another used to sell sugar and flour at Kathore's bazaar in Malir; A third had a tailor shop in the same market. These people and several others kumdar He now owns trucks and excavators, and has acquired buffalo farms, car showrooms, etc.

"People who didn't have 10 goats ten years ago now have dump trucks worth millions of rupees along with land cruisers, Vigos and others," said one of the villagers bitterly. "Many goths They have no electricity, however, these men can afford to place large solar panels on the roof of their homes. It's creating a lot of resentment. "

One might well ask: where will this land appropriation end and who will stop it?

The sand and gravel mining racket is a real money spin. The content of each dump truck is sold for Rs22,000 within BTK (some dumpers go further but the biggest customer is the neighborhood giant). Of the total, the owners / kumdar earn around Rs6,500 while the rest, less fuel and maintenance costs, go to other & # 39; interested & # 39; influential in the hierarchy, including the police and supposedly tribal chiefs.

the kumdar at Gothic closest to the deh Mole boundary with deh Bolari in the Malir district it also charges Rs800 per dumper as a "zillabandi tax" to allow vehicles to cross.

Meanwhile, farmers whose small patches of agricultural land near Mole Naddi are dying from lack of water are "compensated" with Rs200 for dumper. However, one of them, a withered old man with teeth stained with betel nut refuses to accept the misery offered. "Is that the price of my destruction?"

Not only sand and silt from the riverbed are being extracted to meet the insatiable construction demands in the area. A huge sand extraction site is also located on the border between the districts of Malir and Jamshoro, near the BTK Sports City. In addition, the natural landscape is being relentlessly remodeled by Bahria to follow the BTK design (and the sand produced as a result is also being used in construction): the hills have been ground and the natural river courses have been truncated.

Bahria is remodeling the natural landscape to adapt it to the BTK design. – White Star

Squeezing the dry land

Construction also requires water, and a gigantic project like BTK requires millions and millions of gallons. And that's where the groundwater is diverted from the area, despite the fact that Section 144 is in force against commercial water extraction in the adjacent Malir district.

The ban was imposed after the Sindh High Court in 2004 prevented Nestlé Pakistan from establishing a water bottling plant in Deh Chuhar, Malir. The verdict held that "once the process of extracting water in such a large amount is allowed to operate, every day, every hour and every minute the water deposits in the aquifer will decrease rapidly and negatively affect the plaintiffs' rights to use groundwater according to their genuine needs, which will mean an irreparable loss for them. "

If he were allowed to move on, the Nestlé plant would have been only three kilometers from BTK while the raven flies.
According to Gul Hassan Kalmati, a member of the central committee of the Sindh Indigenous Rights Alliance and well-known historian, anthropologist and writer, there are more than 200 submersible pumps in Malir, capable of extracting 26,000,000 gallons of water in 24 hours.

In addition to these, the locals say, another 25 or so are within the city of Bahria, constantly depleting the underground aquifer, the only source of water in the area for villages even miles away. (Of these, two were installed about ten years ago by the Karachi District Council to supply water nearby goths on a non-commercial basis.)

The owners of the hydrants sell the water to various housing schemes in the area, but in large part to BTK for its huge construction needs. This, of course, is another source of illegal profits for the police, the kumdar and others.

The second confidential progress report mentioned above presented by NAB to the apex court also questions how "the BTK project is obtaining millions of gallons of fresh / potable water within the BTK project for daily consumption and for large-scale construction."

When asked how many villages in Deh Mole are affected in one way or another by land grabbing, water extraction or sand extraction, a group of locals begins to count goths on their fingers They reach an estimate of at least 25.

Note that state lands in other areas of Jamshoro district, including Hathal Buth, Uth Palan, Babar Band and Sari, are also being acquired in the same illegal manner as in Deh Mole. One might well ask: where will this land appropriation end and who will stop it?

A morally bankrupt state

What is happening on the outskirts of Karachi is a perfect example of a morally bankrupt state.

Although government officials violate all the laws of the book to enrich themselves and their criminal partners in the establishment, they have done nothing for the people they claim to represent. The health and education facilities in the Taluka Thana Bhula Khan of Jamshoro are practically non-existent. “Any medical emergency such as a heart attack or a difficult birth means certain death. Rarely can someone arrive at a hospital in Karachi on time, ”said a local.

On the night in particular, BTK is a wildly suitable metaphor for those who have and those who do not have in this saga.

Almost no one has established their residence in this expanding community so far, however, at sunset, every road, every landmark is illuminated. Even the replica of the Eiffel Tower overlooking BTK is illuminated. But the villages that dot the surrounding areas, where hundreds of people live, are shrouded in darkness.

For them, there is no electricity or adequate roads.

Some names have been changed for privacy reasons.



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