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“Right of Shelter in Katchi Abadies of Islamabad”

September 24, 2010


Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Center (AHKRC) organized a Public Forum on “Right of Shelter in Katchi Abadies of Pakistan” on September 24, 2010 at community center of 66 Quarters, G-7/2, Islamabad. This forum was organized in collaboration with Plan Pakistan with the aim to initiate discussion on housing rights of the poor living in slums, to review and assess the policies and status of implementation, and all the issues which have hampered the implementation process with emphasis on future possible suggestions to devise course of action for housing rights of poor living in Katchi abadies of Islamabad.

Mr. Mumtaz Alam Gillani, Federal Minister of Human Rights was the chief guest and chaired the session. The panelists included Mr. Haider Waseem Yaqub, Country Director Plan Pakistan, and Mr. Raiz Akhter from UN HABITAT. The forum started with the recitation of few Bible verses by Pastor Nasir. Then the facilitator invited Mr. Fayyaz Baqir Director of Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Center (AHKRC).

He began with the brief background of the above mentioned topic and pronounced that housing is the basic and severe problem of Pakistani People. He was of the viewpoint that in 1970, when Pakistan Peoples Party came to power, its manifesto was the “bread, cloth and house” that every individual has the right of housing and we should provide shelter to homeless persons. He further articulated that in every era, the housing rights were accepted by different Governments and formulated certain rules, polices and legislations.

Mr. Fayyaz Baqir said that when Islamabad city was planned, it was planned only for elite class individuals. The service providers who work in their homes were completely ignored. He inculcated further that people were impelled to build their houses in low lying areas and quoted the example of Bari Imam katchi abadies.  He added further that now in 66 Quarters, a total of 570 households are residing and since Musharaf’s time and the housing policy was accepted for katchi abadies but unfortunately still they are not implemented. He accentuated that the purpose to invite Mr. Mumtaz Alam Gillani is to see how human rights are being violated in slums. He suggested that until and unless CDA will not provide alternate place to move these katchi abadies, the problem will not be solved. He gave example of Mr. Kamarat Masee that CDA had demolished his house 24 times since June24, 2009 till now. He inculcated that solution exits but we are not organized enough to solve our problems.

Effective policies on housing for the poor places a strong emphasis on community-government collaboration based on the concept of Internal-External Development. In Pakistan this approach was introduced by Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority (SKAA). SKAA leaned the secret of proving Internal development means building structures and carrying out activities at household  and lane level. External development includes structures and activities above the lane level.  For example, in the provision of sanitation facilities, internal development includes construction of pour flush latrines at home, laying of sewerage lines in lanes and small secondary sewers and construction of man holes in the lane. External development includes trunk sewerage lines and liquid waste disposal and treatment systems.  In improving solid waste management, internal development includes separation of inorganic and organic waste at home, collection of waste from home to community dumpster and recycling.  External development means collection of waste from the dumpster to disposal site, construction, operation and maintenance of hygienic land fill and/or composting and recycling of city waste.

CDA decided to replicate this approach in Islamabad more than a decade ago. As a first step CD employed the Geographic Information System (GIS) in squatter settlements in Islamabad to build the capacity of government departments in dealing with the demands of residents for services. GIS is an information system that is designed to work with data referenced by spatial or geographic coordinates.  It is both a database system with specific capabilities for spatially-referenced data, as well as a set of operations for working [analysis] with the data. The expanded use of this system is used to identify specific MDG needs at the local level.

The process involving GIS and the participation of settlements dwellers in regularizing Katchi Abadis and giving ownership rights to residents of Katchi Abdis was as follows:

a) The maps prepared by a local NGO survey and/or Capital Development Authority (CDA) during 1995-96 were updated. Houses, which had been constructed after the cutoff date of March 7, 2002 were declared identified as irregular constructions.

b) All maps of squatter settlements were digitized and existing positions were earmarked on the lay out plans.

c) The houses considered to have been constructed before the cutoff date only were allotted numbers. The premises being used as kabarkhanas (junk yards), ot other facilities given C- number but and marked as such on the maps. However, they were not declared eligible for ownership right. All properties without any number will ultimately be demolished without provision of any compensation.

d) To involve the dwellers of katchi abadis in the up-gradation work, local committees comprising members from amongst the dwellers were constituted and consulted in all matters relating to the relevant katchi abadis.

e) To collect information about the dwellers of katchi abadis, socio-economic survey was conducted in which information about head of family, number of families, total number of each family, their family income, NIC numbers, date of arrival in the abadi (settlement), place of origin before arrival and number of rooms within each chardewari (enclosure) was recorded.

f) Draft lists of dwellers eligible to stay in the colony, based on the physical and socio-economic surveys were compiled and pasted at prominent places in each colony. The dwellers g) A Steering Committee

g) The objections filed by the dwellers were discussed with the applicants in the presence of the members of the local committees and action as appropriate was taken to finalize the list. Points requiring decision were presented in the meetings of the Steering Committee whose decision formed the policy.

h) The final list of dwellers was again pasted at prominent places in the colony to inform the dwellers as to who were eligible to stay in the colony.

i) The Maintenance Directorate of CDA was provided with the updated plans of katchi abadis for the preparation of water and sewerage line provision as part of up-gradation plans.

j) On the advice of the Maintenance Directorate, and with the active participation of local committees, the streets were widened to a minimum width of 8 feet. The dwellers willingly and actively participated in this development work even of they had to readjust their built up area or to surrender open areas. Cooperation of the dwellers in this work is appreciable.

k) The Maintenance Directorate also marked the alignment of the Trunk Sewer lines passing through katchi abadis and desired clearance of a corridor of 10 feet wide on each side of the line for its maintenance. This results in complete demolition of certain housing units and part adjustment of others. This work remains to be carried out.

l) After the adjustment of the dwelling units and because of the widening of streets, the exact area of each dwelling unit is worked out to form the basis for the recovery of cost of the land from the dwellers.

m) The Steering Committee recommended certain rates for the determination of cost of plots of various sizes located in katchi Abadis. These rates were to be approved by the CDA. Higher rates of plots will be charged from the dwellers that constructed their dwelling units after the cutoff date. If they do not agree, they will have to surrender the land in favor of CDA. These rates are also awaiting approval of the CDA Board.

After going through a lengthy process to transfer ownership rights to the dwellers of Katchi Abadis and provide housing to low income families in future development of all sectors, CDA has turned its back to the poorest of poor in Islamabad. On September 23 a Forum was arranged to hold dialogue on this issue with CDA. Minister of Human Rights Syed Mumtaz Alam Gillani graced the occasion as Chief Guest. He came to the Forum on time and stayed through the end. However, despite repeated requests Chairman CDA refused to attend or send a nominee. Perhaps he had much more urgent business to attend than the Minister.

He wrapped up his deliberation by suggesting that there should be an institution where one should register his complains. He concluded with his last comment that currently, our Government is terribly busy with the flood victims but the people living these katchi abadies are in worse situation than the people in flood affected areas.

Mr. Haider Waseem Yaqub appraised the efforts of Akhter Hameed Khan resource Center (AHKRC) and initiated his reflection by reiterating the housing rights of individuals of Katchi abadies. He realized the fact and said that this is an imperative problem. He further articulated that this would be an opportunity for all concerned persons of katchi abadies to directly share their problems with the Federal Minister of Human Rights. He said that actually the allotment of plots/area is the major issue because Government polices towards housing were always traditionally applied and the actual people who have to build house on that plot would get that area in 20y ears. He further added that this is commonly an trend in Pakistan that when prizes go up, people prefer to sell their property immediately. He pronounced further while reiterating the figure given by Mr. Fayyaz Baqir that in 2008, the yearly hosing estimated demand was 570,000 units while the actual supply was only 300,000, leaving a shortfall of 270,000 units per year. He stressed that there should be some alternate mechanisms to give place for housing. 

He shared with the audience that proper in-built of people and adjustment of slums was totally missing in present situation. In this regard, he pointed out that the policies were not implemented whole heartedly and rehabilitation of these settlements was supposed to be done by CDA. He articulated that one possible way would be to demolish the settlements and relocate them some where else by CDA but the active participation of the people of katchi abadies are very important to address this issue. He concluded his speech by saying that the report (presented to all participants during the event) of Akhter Hameed Khan Resource Center would act as a foundation to highlight the housing rights issue of katchi abadies in Islamabad. Lastly, he suggested that this report should be translated in Urdu also to give a better understanding of the issue to the people of Katchi abadies.

Mr. Riaz Akhter from UN-HABITAT participated in event and expressed his perspective by saying that last year; a study was conducted by Asian Development Bank which has clearly mentioned that there was a shortfall of 6 million households in Pakistan. In this regard, he deliberated that instead of being decreasing the number, the process of growth in katchi abadies increasing day by day. He pronounced that the phenomenon of unplanned urban slums (katchi abadies) has been on an unprecedented rise in Pakistan over the past 3-4 decades. He stressed on the need to solve the issue in an innovative way with Governmental support. He further added that the housing/settlement of katchi abadies issue was not resolved in its true spirit and the non serious attitude of government delayed the active process of implementation. He opined that the participations of slum people is very imperative in all programs and policies for the acceptance of their rights at broader level. He ended his words and ensured the full support and technical assistance of UN-Habitat which is an organization dealing with slums. 

The forum was followed by an open discussion. A number of questions were raised by the audience pertaining to the issues of housing rights and settlements of katchi abadies. For instance, one participant commented that since 1992, a lot of work has been done in kachi abadies but he mentioned a survey conducted in 1995 and 2001, those were incomplete and few people have left in these surveys. He suggested that the settlement issue should be resolved by plotting role of katchi abadies. He requested to the Mr. Mumtaz Alam Gillani to visit the kachi abady and take a round of all scenario that in which miseries we live. However, he also suggested that there should be a department where people could register complains and take solutions of their problems. He also added that CDA participation should also be mandatory in this forum. While responding the audience, Mr Fayyaz Baqir added that CDA members were invited on forum but they did not come to answer all problems regarding aforementioned issue. Another participant said that the attitude of CDA towards the slum areas and with the four class citizen was not satisfactory at all. He further commented that there is no proper block for the people of katchi abadies and he considered it an open violation of housing rights. He complained that CDA seems unable to deal with the issue and not able to accomplished their plans as per agreed polices. He pointed out that 25 to 30 households are still where sui gas is not available just because of non issuance of NOC from CDA. He said that a master plan was formulated in 1988 to give 30 plots in each sector to katchi abadies individuals but the policies and plans have changed when ever Government changed. One participant commented that our lives are miserable than those of flood victims. He said that the slum populations lack the basic municipal services, such as water supply, sanitation, waste collection or infrastructure, play grounds and children schools.  

While responding to the questions, Mr. Mumtaz Alam Gillani began his speech by saying that I am thankful to Mr. Fayyaz Baqir to invite in this public forum. He articulated that Islamabad is considered a big city and in these katchi abadies of Islamaba, people are living in such conditions in which perhaps, human beings can not live. He especially mentioned that our manifesto of Pakistan People’s Party is “bread, cloth and house” and reiterated that Islamabad is a planned city and this issue of katchi abadies settlements should not be so intense. He accentuated that slum people have more right of housing as they are the employees of CDA. He further said that there is a need of radical strategy to establish a cell in the katchi abadies to sort out and resolve the problems. He pronounced that unfortunately Pakistan was suffered by civil, judicial and military bureaucracy. He concluded with some consolidated suggestions for the way forward and said that we will The moderator concluded the public forum by thanking the chief guest, key discussants and all the participants who actively participate and hoped that such public discourses would facilitate in bridging the gap between Government officials and public.