KARACHI: An anti-encroachment operation threatening to raze the historic Urdu Bazaar in Karachi was postponed on Wednesday amidst protests by vendors and merchants.
Official sources told Dawn that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation — which had launched an anti-encroachment drive late last year following the orders of the Supreme Court against illegal structures on drains, pavements and state land — formed a four-member committee comprising two estate officers of the municipal administration and as many representatives of the book bazaar to resolve the matter.
The vendors and merchants staged a protest on Tuesday against the impending anti-encroachment action at Urdu Bazaar as the KMC had on Jan 4 given them notices to vacate the government property before Jan 8 midnight.
Officials said that following heated protests, led by the Urdu Bazaar Market Association and the Booksellers Association, the drive was postponed and a final decision in this regard was expected on Thursday (today).
They said that the four-member committee would submit a report clarifying that Urdu Bazaar was not located over a drain in the next two days.
According to the protesting vendors and merchants, the iconic bazaar was a cultural heritage of the city.
They said that the KMC claimed that their shops were illegal and asked them to clear out their shops.
The protesters said that the Urdu Bazaar was there for decades and it was set up through legal procedures and was not an encroachment.
However, the KMC officials said that shops were located over a drain.
The Urdu Bazaar Market Association said that almost all bookshop owners had legal documents of ownership. It said the owners had paid the rent of the shops till December 2018.
The shopkeepers have been regularly paying the rent to the KMC after the interval of six months.
WWF award to KMC
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) awarded Karachi with WWF’s One Planet City Challenge Award for 2018 as a recognition of measures taken by Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar for bringing environmental pollution to a lower level.
The award signed by the secretary general of WWF Sweden, Hakan Writen, was handed over to the mayor by a delegation of WWF at his office.
The delegation informed that the WWF’s One Planet City Challenge award is given to management of big cities for their endeavour to control environmental pollution.
It said that Karachi was aiming high with its goal for 2020 — to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent compared to 2017 levels and the city emerged as the strongest candidate in Pakistan for the award.
Meanwhile, in a meeting chaired by the mayor, chairmen/chairpersons of nine committees of the City Council were elected.