The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday ordered the Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) and the Defense Housing Authority (DHA) to file the full list of business entities that were operating or likely to be operating from Nishan-e-Pakistan at the clock tower in the Sea View area.
Management came on a petition against the development of a beach project at Sea View without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The petitioners, Arif Belgaumi and other DHA residents, had indicated in the petition that the CBC planned to market Nishan-e-Pakistan’s Sea View Beach at the Village Restaurant. They informed the high court that the cantonment council had started work on the development of a beach project from Nishan-e-Pakistan to the DHA Phase V extension which was to span 20.89 acres which would involved the development of a -kilometre-long stretch of Sea View beach.
The Claimants claimed that the Respondent planned to construct eight restaurants, 15 confectioneries and 40 street vendors and stalls in the project area. They alleged that the project was part of the plan to commercialize Clifton Beach, and that the Cantonment Council and the DHA had begun occupying the beach in spots. They said that the project would certainly restrict the basic rights of ordinary citizens to enjoy the beach, as the planned facilities were intended only for the wealthy population.
The petitioners said environmental experts had called the project a recipe for environmental disaster, as a large concrete structure along the coastline had shown an impact on the hydrological dynamics of the sea, leading to the loss of natural land and increasing the risk of erosion and vulnerability to flooding.
They argued that Clifton Beach was experiencing rapid sedimentation primarily due to dredged material from the Deep Water Container Terminal and that what caused the accretion of dredged material along the beach was the natural coastal sediment transport process occurring from Clifton’s west to its east. .
The claimants argued that any structure or development along Clifton Beach obstructing this process would result in sediment accumulation on the west side and erosion on the east side of the structure.
They said that the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) initial environmental review was challenged in an environmental court which overturned the initial environmental review (IEE) report.
They argued that the CBC was acting in breach of Section 17 of the Environmental Act 2014 and that Sepa had failed to take action against the cantonment council which had carried out the project without having an approved EIA.
The petitioners argued that it was well-established law that any project obstructing the view of the beach and the sea and restricting free access to the public violated fundamental rights. They argued that Clifton Beach had a unique identification that deserved to be preserved, and that it provided equal entertainment opportunities for people residing in the town. They added that the respondents marketed the proposed project as a welfare project for the general public, but were reluctant to share information about the project.
The petitioners also questioned the CBC’s ownership of Sea View land, as the area was admittedly land reclaimed from the sea, but the receding sea belonged to the province. They said that the provincial government also did not transfer the beach to the cantonment council and that no agreement for the construction of the proposed project had been reached between the provincial government and the cantonment council.
CHS has been requested to declare Nishan-e-Pakistan Sea View Beach at the Clock Tower an open natural beach, free from any man-made alteration, development and construction.
The petitioners also asked the High Court to declare the construction of the project in the name of beach development without EIA approval as illegal and in violation of environmental laws.
A CHS Divisional Bench headed by Judge Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi ordered the CBC and DHA to file a comprehensive list of business entities that were operating or likely to be operating from Nishan-e-Pakistan to the tower. ‘clock. The High Court observed that the full description of these entities along with their ownership should be specified in the report.