Livelihood Substitution DFID Karachi Research: Lyari Expressway

1.  Background

The Northern Bypass was proposed by the Karachi Master Plan 1975 – 85. If the Bypass had been built, all port related traffic which now passes through the city, would have been redirected to the Highway that connects Karachi to the rest of the country. Since this traffic consists mainly of heavy diesel vehicles, their bypassing the city would have helped in removing congestion and pollution. However, the bypass for a variety of reasons was never built and over the years the volume of port related traffic has steadily increased congesting and polluting the city further.

In 1989, a group of public spirited citizens proposed the Lyari Expressway as an alternative to the Northern Bypass. The Expressway was to be an elevated one built over the Lyari River (which passes through the heart of the city) from the Port to the Highway that leads out of Karachi to the north. Many professionals, NGOs and citizens of the Lyari Corridor objected to the building of the Expressway. The Urban Resource Centre (URC) has summarised their objections and these are given in Appendix – 1: Lyari Expressway: Concerns and Proposals of the Urban Resource Centre, Karachi.

Many public hearings were held on the two alternatives and in 1998 it was decided by the then Mayor that the Northern Bypass alternative was a better solution. As a result, the Lyari Expressway project was shelved.

After coming to power the military government took important steps to undertake the building of the bypass alternative. However, in June 2000 it decided to build both the Bypass and the Lyari Expressway. The decision has created considerable controversy. Human Rights activists, NGOs, the media, and above all, the affectees of the Expressway have expressed their concerns and anger through meetings, articles in the press, petitions to relevant government agencies and individuals and large scale demonstrations. The affectees have also sought legal address from courts of law. The government, however, is adamant on building the Expressway.

2. The Affectees  

According to government estimates about 13,531 housing units and 1,222 commercial units are to be demolished for the building of the Expressway.  In addition, 58 places of worship (mosques, tombs, churches) will be affected. 1,348 multi-storied structures, including 31 five storey buildings also come in the Expressway alignment. Government estimates that the lives of a population of 81,540 will be disrupted. However, according to the Lyari Nadi (river) Welfare Association, a confederation of 42 Lyari community organisations, the figures are 25,400 houses and 3,600 businesses. The Association’s estimates that over 200,000 persons will be affected and the schooling of over 20,000 children will be disrupted.

The affectees of the area are of five categories. i) Those living in areas planned by the Karachi Development Authority and having proper leases. ii) Those living in katchi abadis (squatter settlements) which have been notified for regularisation. Many of the residents have already obtained lease documents and paid the required regularisation charges. iii) Old villages which have now become a part of the urban sprawl and have free hold ownership. iv) Squatters along and in the river bed. Most of these work in the garbage collection and sorting business or in the neighbouring settlements as day-wage labour. They constitute the majority of the affectees; and v) Commercial units most of which are informal storage premises, garbage sorting and recycling units, small scale soap manufacturing and other informal industrial activity

3. Demolitions Carried Out So Far

Between January 21 and October 2000 approximately 1,000 housing units and 2,500 commercial units have been demolished. It is estimated that 9,500 persons were working in the demolished commercial units and many poor families also used these units for residential purposes.

Demolitions have been stopped for the time being due to a variety of reasons. These include stays granted by the courts to residents with proper leases, commencement of negotiations between the various stakeholders for a change in the Expressway design and for better compensation terms, and due to protests of NGOs and citizen’s groups.

4. Existing Practices For Assessing Livelihoods Impact

There is no proper practice for assessing of livelihoods impact that is valid under law in Pakistan. However, there are laws under which land and property can be acquired by the state and these spell out the methods of compensation as well. In addition, the government has also developed a national resettlement policy and has drafted an ordinance to give it legal cover. However, this ordinance has still to be enacted. The Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is a major funder of infrastructure projects in Pakistan, has also developed a policy for involuntary resettlement. A review of these documents is given in the section below.

5.  Existing Law/Practices For Compensation/Resettlement Of Affectees Of Development Projects

5.1  Land Acquisition Act 1894

Land Acquisition Act (LAA) is really a law for the acquisition of land needed for public purposes and for companies and for determining the amount of compensation to be paid on account of such acquisition. Under the Act (Appendix – 2: Contents of the Land Acquisition Act 1894), a relevant government department or company makes a scheme or project and the provincial government issues a notification regarding it. After the notification necessary surveys to determine land requirement for the project can be undertaken. The District Commissioner (DC), who is not involved in the preparation of the project, is given the power of making the necessary awards and compensation to the affectees. The affectees can go to court against the project itself and also against the award of the DC.

The Act does not deal with resettlement but only with payment of cash compensation. For this it lays out the methods of determining such compensation which are: i) the market value of the land at the date of publication of the notification must be paid to the affectee; ii) the damage sustained by the affectee, by reason of the taking of any standing crops or trees which may be on the land; iii) the damage (if any) sustain by the affectee at the time of the project taking possession of the land, by reason of severing such land from his other land; iv) the damage (if any) sustain by the affectee at the time of the projects taking possession of his land by reason of the acquisition injuriously effecting his other property, moveable or immoveable, in any other manner, or his earnings; vi) if in consequence of the acquisition of land the affectee is compelled to change his residence or place of business, the reasonable expenses incidental to such change; and vii) the damage resulting from diminution of the profits of the land between the time of the publication of the notification and the time of the projects taking possession of the land. In addition to the market value of the land, the Act provides that in every case an additional award of a sum of 15 per cent on market value should be given to the affectee in consideration of the compulsory nature of the acquisition.

Various court judgements have interpreted this Act, almost always in favour of the affectee. There are judgements which clearly state that compensation has to be paid before the land can be acquired. There are also judgements that take into consideration the “potential” value of the land.

 5.2  National Resettlement Policy

The National Resettlement Policy (Appendix – 3) was framed by the Ministry of Environment, government of Pakistan, in March 2002. It compliments the Project Implementation and Resettlement of Affective Persons Ordinance 2001 (Appendix – 4).

The logic behind the policy and the Ordinance is clearly spelt out in the introduction of the policy document which states that the only law under which land and property can be acquired for development purposes is the LAA 1894. Since the LAA does not provide for resettlement and nor do its procedures take into account the larger social, cultural, economic and environmental factors, a new law and policy are required to prevent injustices, marginalisation of communities, ad-hoc decisions and environmental degradation. The policy further states that the resettlement of involuntary displaced persons has to be done as a matter of right and not by way of charity.

The policy objectives aim at minimising adverse social impacts and at providing sufficient compensation that will assist the affectees to improve or at least restore their previous living standards, income earning or production capacity. Special emphasis is placed on developing opportunities for vulnerable groups (poverty groups, women headed households, refugees and those without security of tenure) in the resettlement plans. The policy also seeks to make involuntary resettlement as part of the project both in financial and planning terms and lays down the processes required for stakeholder consultations and negotiations. It recognises that transparency and accountability can only be achieved through community participation and involvement of affected persons right from the project inception to completion of all resettlement activities.

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