Byline: Raihan A. K. Lodhi - Karachi
DESPITE many letters in this paper highlighting the mushrooming encroachments on the Karachi Circular Railway line in Model Colony (Saudabad area), the authorities as usual remain listless. The encroachments are being made by the area residents, but in a manner that appears environmentally and socially friendly and can be called a 'green approach'.
On the railway line and open spaces on the service roads adjoining it, a homeowner will set up a garden in front of his house. This 'green approach' lends acceptability to the encroachment. Further, watering and tending to the garden makes the encroacher the custodian-apparent of that piece of land. In a few months, he will decide about the ultimate use of the piece of land: maybe convert it into his personal garage, or a business unit like an auto-workshop, a construction material point, a cattle-pen, or even a mini-cinema.
At this last stage the encroachers, besides uprooting their own gardens, also fell decades-old green trees. This is what has been happening and more trees are to disappear in the near future as the encroachments continue. This approach has been adopted by residents to encroach upon the railway track all over Karachi.
I fear that soon this open, 10km tract between Malir Halt and Malir Cantt (which also constitutes a wind corridor for this densely populated area) will be turned into an ugly jungle of concrete and makeshift structures. A large portion of the Model Colony railway station has already been usurped by a newly-established medical centre as a parking lot. A large-scale steel fabricating factory, established many years ago, is using the platform as its workplace.
These encroachments have not only deprived the area's children of the only open space to play in, but are also minimising any possibility of the restoration of the circular railway in the future. The people of Karachi are equally to be blamed for this situation.