China-cutting: Houses constructed on school ground trouble students

KARACHI:18 December:As amenity plots continue to be the target of the land mafia for illegal occupation and construction, the grounds of public schools are no longer safe. As the government and education department remain oblivious to the conditions of schools, land grabbers have encroached upon land of schools in Korangi, resorting to China-cutting to sell it to the general public after illegally building houses and shops.

Four government schools constructed within the same boundary wall in Korangi No 3 have lost their vast ground to the land mafia. The four schools separately cater to boys and girls of primary and secondary levels. The schools were already dilapidated and without basic facilities including proper furniture. However, the woes of students have increased multifold after illegal buildings have been constructed in the ground whose residents have demolished the boundary wall to ease their commute. With no proper boundary wall, the schools’ administration and students are worried about their future. Around 60 to 70 homes have been constructed within the premises of the school.

According to school officials, a few months ago, the boundary wall was constructed by the works and services department but residents residing in the illegally constructed houses demolished it to pave the way for their movements. Owing to this reason, the department abandoned the construction. The construction of the wall is not possible unless the encroachments are not removed.

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As residents and passers-by continue to linger at the schools’ surroundings, female students are troubled by the lack of privacy and security. There is no furniture in the classrooms, due to which they have to pursue their education while sitting on the floor. It is worth mentioning that a year back, the building of the primary school was renovated. However, the school is still without furniture, forcing students to sit on the floor even in the winter.
Many houses and shops have been built on the school ground.
The school administration claims that it requested the officers concerned to provide furniture many times but their request was never followed up on.

The students revealed that due to the absence of a boundary wall, unauthorised persons, including drug dealers, have been accessing the school. The residents living on the school land regard the ground as their own property and their children are often found playing in the school ground making it impossible for the students to either play or go outside during break time.

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The students also claimed that their movements are restricted, as outsiders routinely engage in unethical behavior and address them with indecent language. The female students have requested the Sindh government and education department to remove the illegal houses constructed on the school’s land and erect walls surrounding the school building.

Residents have their say

Hundreds of people have been residing in the illegally constructed homes within the remits of the four schools in Korangi No 3. These residents claim to have paid millions of rupees to obtain the land. Their houses have utility connections and they are paying electricity, water and gas bills. Some of them have also opened up shops. Looking at the place today, one feels that the schools were wrongfully built in residential areas, not the other way round.
Hundreds of people have been residing in the illegally constructed homes within the remits of the four schools in Korangi No 3. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Hundreds of people have been residing in the illegally constructed homes within the remits of the four schools in Korangi No 3. PHOTO: EXPRESS

One resident said he has been living in this area for the past 20 years. He claims to have paid hundreds of thousands of rupees to buy the plot and that he has all the relevant documents to prove his claim. He revealed that when he started living here, there were no walls around the school and he did not know that it was not legitimate land to build a house on.

He admited that after some time he found out that the plot had been illegally carved out from the school’s ground. However, he did not abandon the place because he had paid money to buy the land. “Why was the legitimacy of the land not brought up when these residents were coming to settle here?” he questioned, adding that at that time no one stopped them or asked them to vacate the area. “Now, all of a sudden, everyone realises that we are living on illegal land.”

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A female resident of the area told Express News that she had come to this place a few years ago. “This is my only place of living which I will never vacate,” she said. She also maintained it was not the fault of the residents that unauthorised persons were entering the schools. “The administrations should arrange for their own security and should not blame us for the destroyed wall of the school.”

Education Minister Jam Mehtab Hussain Dahar and the school education secretary were not available for comments despite several attempts.The news.