Victims of anti-encroachment drive get compensation



The Sindh Irrigation & Drainage Authority (Sida) distributed cheques for compensation among the first batch of families whose houses were razed during an anti-encroachment operation along Akram Wah embankments to make room for rehabilitation of the canal under a World Bank funded programme.Sida Managing Director Pritam Das said at the cheque distribution ceremony at the authority’s secretariat here on Thursday where 274 out of total 1,647 families received the cheques that Rs145 million were to be distributed under Sindh government’s scheme for payment of compensation. He said that Akram Wah canal would be remodeled under a separate World Bank-funded programme of Sindh Water and Agriculture Transformation (SWAT) project, which would get under way soon.

He said that Sida got a survey carried out through third party consultant, which identified the 1647 affected families, whose katcha and pucca structures were demolished during the anti-encroachment operation.They had shops and other household items which were also lost in the drive, affecting their economic conditions.

After a prolonged survey and verification process, the bank accounts of affected persons were opened first for the issuance of cheques, he said.He said that the cheques were now being issued and added this exercise took one and a half years to complete in which the Sindh government’s departments completed measurements to determine their financial losses.

He said that a panel of experts was also formed comprising Sindh Agriculture University vice chancellor Dr Fateh Marri, Sindh Abadgar Board leader Mehmood Nawaz Shah, rights activist Pushpa Kumari and Prof Dr Junaid who vetted the process before it was put into operation.SAB leader Mehmood Nawaz Shah said that one could not forget the fact that poor communities made humble abodes brick by brick over the years and after one or two decades they were asked one day to leave. If the occupants had committed an illegal act then why had the department concerned remained quiet for so long, he asked.

He said the officials responsible for the fiasco should also be brought to justice. It was, however, good to see that compensation was being paid to the affected persons but encroachments on the canals’ embankments could never be defended on any grounds, he said.He said that as a member of a panel of experts he tried to make sure that the compensation should be paid in transparent manner.Pushpa Kumari said that those who lost their abodes always felt the pain of losing their homes where they had spent their entire lives.

It was indeed positive that the Sindh government felt their agony and paid them compensation, she said.She said the process indeed took some time to complete but finally things had been settled.Sida general manager (research and development) Javed Hakim Memon said the survey was verified by a non-governmental organisation to avoid any error.