May issue 2009
Interview: Kaushif Gulzar Shaikh
“Abadis located on land belonging to provincial government agencies or federal government agencies can be regularised after obtaining an NOC from the concerned agencies” — Kaushif Gulzar Shaikh, director general, Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority
Q: One of the functions of the Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority (SKAA) is the implementation of government policies on katchi abadis. Are these policies devised by the federal government or the provincial governments and does the SKAA have any say in shaping these policies?
A: Policy regarding katchi abadis is devised at the provincial level but the federal government provides broad contours for the formation of the policy. Since SKAA is an implementing agency of the provincial government, it definitely has a say in the shaping of these policies.
Q: Some of the katchi abadis cannot be regularised because they do not meet the criteria for regularistion. What steps are being taken by SKAA in this regard?
A: We are in the process of identifying vacant spaces in existing katchi abadis and at other suitable locations for the relocation of such settlements. The Board of Revenue, Sindh, has been approached to allot land for launching low-cost housing schemes in order to provide affordable housing to people without homes and for rehabilitation/relocation of such settlements.
Q: According to the criteria for the regularisation of katchi abadis, the settlements should be in existence before March 23, 1985. What about the numerous settlements which came into being after this date, what will happen to them? Are they going to be relocated or is there some way they too, can be regularised despite the cut-off date? Is there any legislation or debate underway to extend the cut-off date?
A: A policy is under consideration at the federal and provincial levels to deal with the settlements which came into existence after March 23 1985. Recently, the Board of Revenue, Sindh, has also come up with a policy, Statement of Conditions for Grant of Lease-hold Rights, 2008, to regularise those abadis/villages which came into existence after 1985.
Q: When an abadi is regularised, what is the process the residents need to go through and what benefits do they draw from it, in terms of ownership, safety and provision of services?
A: The “unauthorised occupiers” are first issued an application form prescribed by SKAA, which contains all the necessary information and documents to be produced along with the application, once the regularisation process begins. Once the abadi has been regularised, dwellers of the katchi abadis receive a 99 years ownership lease and that document can be used for all the legal transactions and court purposes. Once this is done, the dwellers are entitled to all the civic facilities which are provided to the other areas i.e. sewerage, water supply, health, roads/streets, etc.
Q: In cases where katchi abadis exist on land belonging to either the provincial government agencies or federal government agencies, how willing have these agencies been to reach a settlement regarding the land and for allowing the abadis to be regularised? Legally, what are they compelled to do?
A: Abadis located on land belonging to provincial government agencies or federal government agencies can be regularised after obtaining an NOC from the concerned agencies. Usually, due to government policy for providing land to people without a home, these agencies extend their help after the completion of all codal formalities.
Q: What happens in the case where government agencies refuse to reach an agreement on the land?
A: Normally, the government agencies do not refuse to hand over the land for regularisation of katchi abadis, if the land is not required for any operational purpose or is not on a hazardous location.