SHC seeks report on encroachments around canals, water channels

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The Sindh High Court (SHC) has released Wednesday its interim decision pending on appeals by the Sindh government over appeals for deferment of the anti-encroachment drive across River Indus and its irrigation canals. A full bench of SHC released its preliminary verdict on various official appeals in response to earlier order by the court to reclaim within a month all the encroached lands designated for irrigation canals originating from River Indus. The interim order by full bench requires from the government of Sindh to furnish a report on all the encroachments around the canals or water channels of River Indus. How many spots of irrigation canals are invaded, SHC orders Sindh government’s irrigation department and chief secretary to report it to the court, adding that the government prepares a blue print of how it’s going to raze the buildings and structures on encroached lands. The court also inquired of the roadmap of rehabilitation of residents on the encroached lands as the provincial government appealed the courts that mega operation against encroachments is likely to deprive hundreds of thousands of people throughout the province. It may be noted that the court has not released a stay on its earlier order and a final verdict is awaited. Earlier this month, SHC approved a plea of the Sindh government seeking transfer of irrigation lands encroachment case to Karachi from Sukkur. Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh granted the Sindh government’s plea and constituted a larger high court bench, comprised of Justice IqbalKalhoro, Justice ShamsuddinAbbasi and Justice Agha Faisal, to hear the case. The Government of Sindh in its petition said that demolition of hundreds of thousands houses could create a humanitarian crisis and pleaded for providing the people an alternate shelter before demolishing their homes. “The high court’s Sukkur bench has ordered the removal of encroachments from the irrigation lands on the banks of Indus river, while hundreds of thousands of people have made their homes on the lands of the irrigation, forest and agriculture departments,” the government stated in its petition.

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