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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Shelters for poor in the Capital.

By Shamim Mehmood 

ISLAMABAD: Slum settlements (katchi abadis) in the capital city are deemed a challenge to the local authorities, concerned that they appear vulnerable yet hopeless at finding a lasting solution to this sensitive issue. 

Inhabitants of these dwellings are living miserable lives in the absence of basic necessities such as clean drinking water, sanitation, electricity and gas.

Almost all the slums are situated along seasonal rain drainage systems and suffer horrendous health hazards during rainy season.  These seasonal drains overflow and sometimes take the lives and belongings of victims in one fail swoop.

According to local sources, recently, a young man Salman Masih s/o Ilyas Masih was swept away by flood water near French Colony, F-7/4 and today his dead body was found after two days, near Nullah near Bahria Town. 

The devastation is mostly caused due to the lack of safety walls constructed around inhabited localities. Capital Development Authority (CDA), being the sole municipal authority in the Capital, have miserably failed to fulfil  their fundamental responsibility of constructing these walls, to ensure safety of human lives.

CDA authorities held a meeting after the incident, to review the performance of the Flood Relief Cell.  The Chairman of CDA directed officials concerned to keep a strict watch on affected areas.  But this action seems very piece-meal and reactive and provides no long term solution.
Most of these slums dwellers originally hail from different parts of the country,  some say that they left their homes to escape abject poverty and sometimes persecution. Christians are a prominent part of the slums population and their women often work as housemaids while men do blue collar jobs or work as labourers.

Reliable statistics reveals eleven katchi abadies, including Hansa Colony, Charles Colony, Faisal Colony, 66 Quarters, French Colony, Awami Colony, 100 Quarters, Issa Nagri, Maskeen Colony, Mushraf Colony, and 48 Quarters have legal status under the Urban Shelter Program of Capital Development Authority (CDA), whereas others have been allowed to grow due to the negligence of the concerned departments. 

The concerned authorities have given them legal status but the dwellers are still deprived of basic welfare facilities. 

A report compiled by a local concern group shows a continuous increase in the number of “katchi Abadis” or slums, in the Federal Capital.  

Nadeem Hassan Asif, Chairman CDA said;

"...authorities will follow the government policy in provision of the facilities and will remove illegal slums in the city."

Wilson Chowdhry of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said;

"The failure of the CDA to manage and equip these slum settlements, is no doubt responsible for the elevated sickness and mortality rates, assigned to settlers.  For too long Pakistani authorities have neglected victims of poverty that have been forced into this demeaning lifestlye - lets be honest it is not a choice. This failure is a black mark on the state and illustrates a lack of desire to protect all it's people."

1 comment:

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