Clifton/Bahria Underpass and Bridge, SEPA hearing

SEPA_hearing.jpgSindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) held a public hearing on Sindh High Court orders in the KMC Council Hall on 22nd July 2014 to assess the pros and cons of the Clifton/Bahria under/over pass situation. It was attended by myself, Mr Samar Khan MPA PS113, and Mr Khurrum Sehrzaman MPA PS112. We had decided among the elected representatives that our constituents want the issue settled quickly as there is a huge dugout, and that we will hear about the feasibility and environmental impact in a totally unbiased manner to make the best judgement for the area and its population.

The KMC presented its point of view and said that this was the best option which was adopted.  The Initial Environmenal Examination (IEE) report was submitted on 18th March 2014 and approved the next day.  They must have broken a lot of efficiency records.  I satirically congratulated KMC for being very efficient as the whole process was decided and approved within a week and hoped that the KMC would do the same on all issues.  They had no answer to the query that while the DHA and Neelum Colony is thirsty for water, where will the water for the Bahria Icon Tower come from? As to why no other possible options were studied and presented, again there was no answer.

A consultant who was hired by KMC to give an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) presented his one sided, biased and totally pro-builder report for one and a half hour. He was supposed to get opinion from all stake holders which he claimed to have done. Those present, the DHA, all MPAs and MNA of the area, FPCCI, the Hindu Temple officers and all present said that they were NOT consulted.

He further said that the noise levels after bridge/underpass construction would reduce. When I asked that what were the traffic levels on site. they had no idea. It seems ridiculous that while they said that after construction traffic would increase tremendously, the noise levels would reduce.  A major contradiction.  Around Quaid-e-Azam Mazar by law no construction higher than two stories can take place within a 1 mile radius to keep its visual beauty. On what visual impact will the bridge have on Jahangir Kothari promenade, there was no model to show the same nor any positive argument.

I said that in Karachi huge multi-storey  projects come up without infrastructure of water, roads, traffic, parking and drainage.  The infrastructure band-aid is then tried.  Corruption money is taken by all departments to facilitate such builders who rape the city and make life miserable for its residents.

Samar Khan spoke and said that this EPA report was totally biased.  I recommended to the house that the report should be scrapped as we had come to hear a neutral expert rather than a builder bought consultant. The house unanimously then rejected the EPA report.  By the way the consultant was very rude and had to leave among protests.

Khurrum Sherzaman said that we want the misery of the people reduced otherwise there will be strong protests it the issue is not handled quickly.

Roland Dsouza of Shehri gave an incisive assessment of the totally unplanned manner in which this whole exercise was undertaken.  DHA submitted many objections independently. A resident of DHA Mr Shaheen Merchant presented his assessment that traffic would become miserable as the entire project was being made to facilitate the Bahria Icon Towers and the load of traffic dumped on the DHA side. 

The whole house including PTI MPAs and MNA wanted the problem to be solved quickly, the EPA report to be trashed, and the objections of DHA, Shehri, the parliamentarians to be accommodated.

For an accurate news report see article by Mahim Maher in the Express Tribune:

Express Tribune (23rd July 2014)Public hearing: MNA, residents reject new environment impact assessment on Clifton flyover


Dr Arif Alvi

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