Bahria Town Questioned!

[dropcaps style=’square1′ background_color=”][/dropcaps]

Text & Photography by Faisal Sayani

The construction of two huge flyovers and an underpass in Karachi’s Clifton and DHA areas began in March this year. The unprecedented and unusual about this mega project is the fact that it’s funded and being executed by the country’s biggest property tycoon Malik Riaz, chairman Bahria Town, with the cost of about Rs. 1.8 billion (around £ 10.8 million). Bahria Town claims that it’s a gift for the residents of Karachi.

 

The controversial Bahria Town Icon Tower construction site
The controversial Bahria Town Icon Tower construction site

[blockquote width=’100′]

The heritage sites like the colonial ‘Jehangir Kothari Parade’ and the Clifton monument, the ancient Hindu ‘Shri Ratneswar Mahadev’ temple and the legendary shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, are affected. The historical Hindu temple is constructed beneath the surface of the ground, and when the construction began, stones were falling off from the ceiling.

[/blockquote]

Environmentalists and concerned citizens wouldn’t swallow this without some skepticism (and rightly so). The flyovers and underpass in question were being constructed on Karachi’s one of the expensive areas, 26th Street, where the Bahria Town’s giant residential and commercial project, the 68 floor Bahria Town Icon Tower is being constructed. Which simply means the supposedly welfare project was undertaken to support Bahria’s commercial project (in fact, without these flyovers and an underpass, the area around the Icon Tower will be a huge mess, which would negatively influence the price of the housing and commercial units offered).

The residents have to take a series of detours. The construction site of flyovers and underpass.
The residents have to take a series of detours. The construction site of flyovers and underpass.
Another angle of the site of flyovers and underpass construction.
Another angle of the site of flyovers and underpass construction.

The bigger problem and hence the debate is – because of the digging and the use of heavy machinery for the project, following has occurred:

The heritage sites like the colonial ‘Jehangir Kothari Parade’ and the Clifton monument, the ancient Hindu ‘Shri Ratneswar Mahadev’ temple and the legendary shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi, are affected. The historical Hindu temple is constructed beneath the surface of the ground, and when the construction began, stones were falling off from the ceiling.

The famous colonial heritage Karachi monument being affected. (Bahria Town Icon Tower in the background).
The famous colonial heritage Karachi monument being affected. (Bahria Town Icon Tower in the background).
Clifton Monument (closer view).
Clifton Monument (closer view).
The historical ‘Jehangir Kothari Parade’ and the rubble of the construction.
The historical ‘Jehangir Kothari Parade’ and the rubble of the construction.

26th Street is one of the busiest roads in the area used very frequently to commute from one spot to another. Now, the residents have to go through a series of detours that are full of bumpy small streets, which also causes traffic jams.

I’d quote from May 2, 2014’s Daily Dawn: “The work had started even before an NOC from the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) had been issued, which is done after the agency assesses a project to determine whether it requires the more basic Initial Environment Examination (IEE) or an EIA (Environment Impact Assessment). The latter is mandatory for projects over Rs100 million and entails public hearings to consider feedback from concerned citizens.”

The gate of ‘Shri Ratneswar Mahadev’ temple and the boundary walls that are affected because of the construction. The temple is beneath this ground shown in the picture.
The gate of ‘Shri Ratneswar Mahadev’ temple and the boundary walls that are affected because of the construction. The temple is beneath this ground shown in the picture.
Juma, a temple volunteer from Hindu community (Hindus are minority in Pakistan).
Juma, a temple volunteer from Hindu community (Hindus are minority in Pakistan).
Worshippers/Visitors at temple have to face difficulties in reaching the temple as the usable road around it is pretty far away now. Juma is helping them getting in.
Worshipers/Visitors at temple have to face difficulties in reaching the temple as the usable road around it is pretty far away now. Juma is helping them getting in.

Various stakeholders have taken the matter to court and work on the project has been stopped twice. Latest, however, is the announcement of Bahria Town of rolling back the flyovers and underpass projects (April 30, 2014). I took these photographs today at around 9 am (May 4, 2014). The work on Bahria Town Icon Tower continues, the flyover sites stay dug up. The damage done to the heritage structures is still unattended. The detours and blockades are still in place.

The shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi (on left with the green tomb) close to the Bahria Town Icon Tower. The entrance to the shrine is almost gone.
The shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi (on left with the green tomb) close to the Bahria Town Icon Tower. The entrance to the shrine is almost gone.

Faisal Sayani

May 4, 2014

Share Button

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.