Regularising Illegal Settlements

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Predictably, the fallout of the Supreme Court’s order to demolish the Nesla Tower in Karachi continues to dominate the headlines. Everybody understands the nature of events that led to the order, of course, but the main question now is to compensate people the followed rules and procedures but still got caught in this racket. That is why it is very important to scrutinize the ordinance finalized by the Sindh government and duly forwarded to the governor of the province to be signed into law. The drive to regularize illegal settlements shouldn’t, at the end of the day, just be an exercise in deflecting attention from the real issue at hand.
At the heart of the matter is the fact that unscrupulous business tycoons, land mafia, government departments, and all other usual suspects got together and swindled honest, hard working people out of their honest savings by engineering the process that resulted in the making of the Nesla Tower. Therefore, any effort to sort out this mess must not even begin without first identifying, isolating and taking care of this lot. Simultaneously, the Sindh government must also not look to escape the responsibility of compensating all the people and families that have been affected by the demolition.
The ordinance that clearly occupied the PPP administration’s time and energy since the court order might reduce some headaches somewhere down the road, but it will not make the real problem go away in the least because they are running in the wrong direction. Even if they are able to get good headlines for the time being, they will be forced to solve more such problems not long down the road. How Sindh government has decided to take care of those forced under the sky in Nasla controversy, for instance, is among the long, long list of questions that need a clear answer. Prudence, then, dictates that this matter be approached in a very systematic way. Let’s focus on the compensation formula and the machinery to deliver it in the earliest, first. Then, when the time is right, ordinances can take centre stage.