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October 11, 2018

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Building 5m houses is not a joke: CJP

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday sought the opinion of Attorney General and advocates general of the four provinces over the proposed draft prepared by the amicus curie for legislation to address the issues of Katchi Abadis and rehabilitation of their inhabitants.

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A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandyal and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, resumed hearing in the Katchi Abadis case.

The court handed over the draft prepared by the amicus curie to the Attorney General and advocates generals of the four provinces, directing them to give their opinion. Commenting on the announcement to build five million houses, the Chief Justice said that the houses will not be built by announcement. He said building five million houses was not a joke. He said dollar has taken wings and things were going from bad to worse. He said if anyone wants to see the condition of the inhabitants of Katchi Abadis, then they should watch the movie “Hitchki”.

The Chief Justice questioned as to whether the government had collected the data regarding the Katchi Abadis, adding that they had no doubt over the intention of the government but it will take time for constructing the houses.

Meanwhile, Advocate General Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told the court that after regularising the slum areas, new houses had been constructed in the province. At this, the Chief Justice said that let the court constitute a commission to ascertain as to what had been achieved. “Has the change come in the province and all problems of the people been resolved in Peshawar?” he questioned.

Additional Attorney General Nayyar Rizvi told the court that the government of Balochsitan was legislating over the provision of houses to the homeless people besides regularising slums in the province.

The CJP said that it was the responsibility of the government to provide adequate facilities to the inhabitants of Katchi Abadis. He said that it was the fundamental right of every citizen to have a residence and the state was responsible for providing facilities to the public.

The Additional Attorney General said that the prime minister had announced the construction of five million houses. He sought some time for submitting the implementation report. He further said that the government was also working on relocation of inhabitants of katchi abadis in the federal capital.

The Chief Justice asked the Additional Attorney General as to when the prime minister was free to go to slum areas and assess how many people could be accommodated adding that the CDA was bent upon forcing the people to leave the slums.

The Chief Justice said that he was not issuing any direction but the prime minister, being the chief executive, should have information and should know the volume of people living in Katchi Abadis.

Counsel for the petitioner informed the court that the CDA was demolishing the Katchi Abadis but it had changed its plan after the order was issued by the prime minister. The Chief Justice said that the prime minister should himself visit the slum areas in the federal capital, saying he had himself visited the areas and the said areas were not feasible for living.

The Chief Justice said that constructing five million houses was a difficult task, which will require money and time as well adding that several people will register four families in one house in order to get more houses.

The Chief Justice observed that as to what had been done since 1996. “And then they say a change has come,” he said. He noted that retired officers do not vacate government houses. The chief justice said Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had introduced a law for the katchi abadis hinting that he will visit the katchi abadis in Sindh accompanied by chief minister Sindh and chief secretary.

He said the government should concentrate on provision of adequate facilities to dwellers of the slum areas till the construction of five million new houses. The court also directed the additional attorney general to present recommendations on removing informal settlements in Islamabad, adding that the law officer has not yet given data regarding informal settlements in the capital. The court adjourned the hearing for four weeks.

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