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The News

Published Date: Jun 16, 2014

70,000 reside in illegal, 25,000 in legal ‘katchi abadis’

Lacking access
to clean water and proper sanitary system, approximately 52,000 to 70,000 people reside in illegal ‘katchi abadis ‘ whereas 20,000 to 25,000
are inhabitants of legal or recognised slums in Islamabad.

statistics were collected for a police survey mentioned in a research report ‘A Situation Analysis and Viable Solution to Katchi Abadis in Islamabad ‘ conducted by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute.

to preliminary findings of the report, majority of the ‘katchi abadi ‘ inhabitants are Muslims (60 per cent) whereas rest are mostly Christians
(40 per cent). Almost 49 per cent of the inhabitants are from Punjab, 38 per cent are Pakhtun, 7 per cent are Kashmiri, 2 per cent are Afghans
with Gilgiti, Chitrali, Sindhi, Balti and Saraiki each sharing 1 per cent of the population.

“For us, the biggest issue is sanitation. Nullah that passes through our area is full of filth all the
time that serve as breeding ground for mosquitoes. The smell is unbearable. During rainy season, the water enters households and plays havoc with our lives every year,” said Sermed Masih, a resident of French Colony.

‘Katchi Abadis ‘ family unit can be defined as a group of individuals residing under the same roof in an urban area who lack one or more of the following (UN-Habitat); Resilient housing that provides shelter against harsh climate conditions; Ample living space for three people maximum; easy access to clean water at an affordable rate and satisfactory amount; Availability of proper sanitary
system in the form of public and private toilet shared by reasonable quantity of people; and Protection from forced eviction.

to UN-Habitat report, Pakistan is among the ten South Asian countries facing the unusual increase of slums. Since independence Pakistan has faced unusual rate of urbanisation which give rise to poverty and proliferation of ‘Katchi Abadis’. The mushroom growth of cities and increasing demand for housing has surpassed the planned development in Pakistan. Currently, one-half of the country’s population lives in urban
areas. Currently, 26 per cent of Pakistan’s urban population is residing in such settlements.

The SDPI research says that a
survey undertaken by National Child Protection Sector (NCPS) identified
34 ‘katchi abadis ‘ in the capital city with 2 in Diplomatic Enclave Area and E-Sector, 6 in F-Sector, 9 in G Sector, 5 in H Sector and 10 in
I Sector. CDA recognised 10 as legal and 15 as illegal ‘katchi abadis ‘.
It is not necessary that everyone in slums is living in poverty.

who have been to these settlements say that they have observed houses full of facilities in these localities. “We have observed house with solar penal on roofs and people keeping their cattle and doing business in these areas,” shared one researcher on condition of anonymity.

survey conducted by SDPI in these localities for their research study shows that around 48 per cent people living in these areas agree that people use drugs in these localities, 36 per cent agree that people are selling drugs whereas 64 per cent disagreed to that perception.

respondents said that ‘churs ‘ is the most popular of all drugs, 63 per cent said that inhabitants prefer to use liquor, 48 per cent voted for ‘afeem ‘ whereas 51 per cent confirmed the use of heroin in their locality.

Around 79 per cent of the respondents said they would consider moving in case provided with better place to live whereas
21 per cent said that they would still stay in the same area. As many as 95 per cent said that there are no militants in these dwellings whereas 5 per cent agreed that there are chances of the presence of such
elements in ‘katchi abadis’ of Islamabad.

Around 88 per cent said that there is no gender based violence in these localities where as 12 per cent confessed that it exists. In their answer to another question, 90 per cent respondents said that there is no link between these settlements and land mafia or any criminal cause. They said most committed crimes in past six months were illegal drug dwelling, conflict and robbery where as 90 per cent said that crime is not registered in police.

The survey team suggested that there is a need for further studies in order to understand the subject of ‘katchi abadi ‘ fully. “During survey clear evidences of blame game were found since group with similar orientation i.e. community or ethnicity or religion were blaming the opponent groups for committing crime, selling drugs, violence etc.” said Senior Researcher Associate for SDPI Shakeel Ahmad Ramay.

The research says that CDA is still trying to find out a viable solution for the problem of ‘katchi
abadis ‘ which would be acceptable for both the residents and stakeholders. Till date, it has undertook a number of approaches which include; eviction, resettlement within residential sectors, resettlement
outside residential sectors, rehabilitation of ‘katchi abadis’ through cooperative societies, rehabilitation of ‘katchi abadis ‘ on existing site, and upgradation of ‘katchi abadis’ but it is still a challenge for
the authority to manage and limit these settlements.