Eviction Watch report Karachi
Housing Rights and Eviction Watch Program
July 2006 - June 2007
Urban Resource Centre
A-2/2, 2nd Floor, Westland Trade Centre, Commercial Area,
Shaheed-e-Millat Road, Karachi Co-operative Housing Society Union,
Housing Rights and Eviction Watch Program
1.0 Evictions in Karachi
URC has been monitoring evictions in the city since 1992. The reported figures show that more than 23,975 houses (excluding houses and shops demolished in the Lyari riverbed due to the Lyari Expressway Project) have been bulldozed by various government agencies since 1992. As a result of these evictions 188,201 people have been displaced, including women, children and elderly. No compensations or alternatives were awarded to the victims of these demolitions.
During first of half of this year (July – December 2006) the government bulldozed over 400 houses in the various parts of the city. A total of 2,400 people were made homeless as result of these evictions.
The details of demolished settlement since July 2006 is as follows:
The recent trends showed that the evictions have become an increasing threat to the poor communities across the city.
There are three major reasons
In February 2006 city nazim (Mayor) announced removal of all settlements, which were established after 23rd March 1985. This action faced a lot of resistance from communities as well as opposition political parties. This forced the government to stop demolition of the settlements. URC supported the resistance movement against evictions with information and documentation.
Need to support peoples efforts, as a sustained process:
In all the cases where evictions have taken place or where settlements are under threat, it has been observed that people need documentation of their settlements i.e case studies that can be used as evidence for dialogue/ negotiations. This can strengthen people’s resistance. Take the example of the case of the Katchi Abadis (informal settlements) along the Karachi Circular Railway tracks, where the ground situation was documented by URC. The information, printed as maps and photographs, was used as evidence by the peoples alliance stopping evictions.
OPP-RTI, as part of its sanitation program has mapped and documented about 416 Katchi Abadis i.e. 77% of the total Katchi Abadis in Karachi. Documentation is of the existing sanitation, water supply systems, schools, clinics and block maker’s yards. There is an assessment of peoples/govt.’s work and the investments, which shows immense community work. This information, used as evidence for advocacy, has been an important tool facilitating the adoption by the government of the realistic sewage disposal plan for the city. Need has therefore, been felt to add to the documentation on Katchi Abadis the information on the status of land, housing, its value and investments i.e additional information about the settlements that can assist people in resisting evictions and negotiating tenure.
OPP-RTI and URC are together in contact with community activists in these settlements who are a resource for information. Case studies of the settlements are being jointly prepared. The process would include the following:
Now URC in collaboration of OPP is exploring the ways to strengthen communities’ effort to secure their houses from bulldozing. During last six months a number of meetings were held with community activists in the various settlements. Furthermore a series of workshops are being planned to discuss evictions threats as well as larger housing/land title issues of the poor. In a first step only community activists will be invited in these workshops to develop a strategy on this issue.
2.0 Lyari Expressway
The work on Lyari expressway was started on 21st January 2002. The government claimed to complete it within 30 months (by end of July 2004). A recent survey showed that so far only 60 percent (by end June 2007) has been completed.
Displacement of poor communities:
The recent surveys showed that the city government has demolished 12,825 housing units to make way for this controversial project. Besides those 3470 commercial units (including shops, factories etc) were also bulldozed. No compensation or alternatives land were given to the commercial units. The expressway project will displace a population 225,000 at the completion.
The resettlement process lacks transparency and community participation, besides creating numerous hardships for affected communities.
The displaced and under threat communities regularly take out protest rallies against this project. Many such demonstrations were held in front of city government offices and at Karachi Press Club in recent months.
URC regularly circulated all information of these on forced evictions to the concerned organizations and media, which resulted publication of a number of news articles in different newspapers. These forced evictions have also widely covered by various TV channels and newspapers.
All videos, books and documents on Lyari expressway are available at URC on request.
3.0 Huts on Fire
URC has also been documenting incidents of fire in Katchi Abadis (informal and low income settlements) of Karachi since 1995. Since January ’97, a total number of 1,806 huts were gutted in different settlements. These incidents have rendered more than 12,204 people homeless. 19 minor children, four young girls, two women and four men were also burnt alive in these incidents, besides a number of severe physical injuries.
Two main causes are identified for these incidents; one natural and the other planned. The planned incidents are those, in which the land mafia is involved. To draw attention towards fire incidents in Karachi, URC circulates reports containing facts and figures on the issue to the press, NGOs and government agencies.