KARACHI: Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) has directed Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) authorities to clear as many 3,500 amenity spaces from encroachments within two months. The apex court ordered the KDA director general (DG) and KMC officials to cancel illegal allotments in respect to all the amenity spaces across the city. It further told them to remove encroachments from these amenity spaces, including the 35,000 plots disclosed by the KDA. During a hearing on applications submitted by several land owners facing encroachments on their land, SC ordered civic entities to restore amenities plots in city allotted under ‘China Cutting’ within two months. The term ‘China cutting’ refers to the practice of slicing plots from parks and land earmarked for public amenities, and converting them into residential and commercial property that is sold off for huge profits Around 3,500 amenities plots worth Rs 100 billion had been illegally allotted or encroached upon in Karachi, was revealed during the hearing. Karachi Development Authority submitted a report on China cutting and it was disclosed that thousands of square yards of 3,500 amenity plots in the metropolis had been encroached upon through illegal carving. The court ordered KDA and Karachi Metropolitan Corporation to immediately ensure recovery of encroached plots coming under their mandated domains and to cancel allotments of welfare plots with immediate effect. Seeking details of Karachi’s public plots according to its original master plan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad directed officials to clear 3,500 plots throughout the city. He also directed KDA DG to submit an initial report of the operation in two months. The bench expressed its dismay on the absence of KDA director general during the hearing. The director’s counsel claimed that his client was on bed rest due to high blood pressure. Justice Gulzar Ahmad ordered the KDA to present details of amenity plots according to original master plan of the city. The court noticed that last grand action against encroachments in Karachi was conducted during Ayub Khan’s tenure; and since then Karachi’s situation owing to encroachments had deteriorated. Reprimanding officials of KDA over prevailing conditions, Justice Gulzar Ahmad said the metropolis had been ruined by China cutting and land grabbing. Justice Ahmed advised KDA officers to come out of their lavish offices to witness the poor conditions in the city for a change. The KDA in its report claimed that illegal constructions in 27 different areas were bulldozed by the authority in last two days. Officials of KMC, KDA and officials of other relevant civic bodies were present during the hearing. More than a hundred parks and schools in the last 5 years, besides more than 12,000 KDA plots, have been sold by land grabbers, it was said. In Surjani Town, Korangi, North Karachi, North Nazimabad, Gulshan Town, more than 12,000 residential and commercial plots were illegally sold at lower prices after they were cut into 80-1,000 yard plots. More than 400 acres of KDA land is said to be occupied across the city, most of it in the past 10 years. Published in Daily Times, November 30th 2017.