Mr. Ghulam Murtaza Baloch(Special Assistant to CM Sindh for Katchi Abadis & Spatial Development)

Dr. Syed Mansoor Abbas Rizvi  Secretary KA&SDD

       Director General             Vacant


 

Katchi abadis or squatter settlements on urban public land are an evidence and a result of the state’s inability to provide land for housing the burgeon of population, specially those who, pushed by dire economic factors, join the waves of rural-to-urban migration every year. A whole informal system has grown over the years to occupy the government land and provide it to those in need of housing in or around the cities.  The agricultural land is subdivided and as a result katchi abadis in every city of Pakistan grow in population and new ones being set up. The extent of this phenomenon can be judged by the fact that, for example, about half of Karachi’s population lives in katchi abadis.

 The Sindh Katchi Abadis Authority (SKAA), which was established in 1987 under an Act of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, is one of the outcomes of a realization on the part of the state that the magnitude of the phenomenon of katchi abadis is such that the traditional methods of removing the squatters were just not going to work anymore and some kind of acceptance of the katchi abadis already in existence would have to be accorded. The main functions of the SKAA have been to survey and map these abadis, plan for their improvement with minimum demolitions, and issue leases or legal titles of the plots of land to those living there. Since the improvement and development work cannot be successfully carried out without the participation of the residents of katchi abadis, SKAA’s work has also included the mobilization of their human and material resources so that the development decisions are taken according to the resident’s needs and wishes.

 During its existence and work, SKAA has seen many ups and downs. However, the results that it has produced have been appreciated by independent evaluators and researchers. Not only has it been able to provide development and tenure security to a large number of katchi abadis in the urban areas of Sindh, it has had the distinction of being one of the very few financially self-sustaining government institutions, as all the development work carried out by it in katchi abadis has been funded by the lease money that the residents have paid. Even the overhead expenses have been met from the lease charges.

 The achievement of these results has involved a long and tortuous process because no model of this kind of work was available nor was a blueprint there to guide SKAA in this work. The reluctance of people living in these settlements to participate in and pay for the improved legal status and better living conditions used to be cited traditionally as a major reason for the failure of such and other government initiatives in the past. SKAA carried out a thorough research to find out the reasons for the residents’ lack of involvement and tried to address them by improving the service delivery and simplifying procedures. It felt that there was great enthusiasm and desire for participation among the residents of katchi abadis for obtaining leases and having the infrastructure improved in their settlements.



 

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