PFF stands against sale of coastal lands

Karachi: The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) on Monday announced a phase-wise campaign to protect islands that might be handed over to investors for mega projects.

The announcement was made at a meeting presided by PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah. Other leaders and community activists who live along the 127-kilometre coastline of the city were also present on the occasion.

According to media reports, real estate tycoon Malik Riaz’s Bahria Town and a US investment group signed a $15 to $20 billion memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop Net City, Education City, Health City, Port City and other infrastructure projects on the islands located near Karachi’s coastal locality of Ibrahim Hyderi.

There were also plans to build one of the most modern shopping malls on the island city. However, community elders, during the meeting, vowed to protect their ancestral lands and not allow these developments to take place.

The PFF chairperson said these were the main routes used by fishing vessels to move into the open sea and hundreds depended on the traditional source of livelihood. “These are our ancestral assets and nobody has the right to sell the islands without consultations,” he said.

The meeting observed that the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)-led government did nothing during for the development of coastal villages during its five-year tenure.

The PFF statement said the campaign would be launched from March 22 with the staging of a protest rally. Apart from this, there would be a meeting in which community stakeholders, village chieftains and activists would participate to initiate village level mobilization.

On March 30, the PFF is organizing an all parties’ conference (APC) in Karachi to discuss the protection of the natural resources of coastal communities.

Also, hundreds of fisher women would stage a march from Ibrahim Hyderi to the Karachi Press Club on April 5 to protest against the mega projects.

The PFF also decided that it would launch a provincial-level protest against the move to sell out the ancestral land of the coastal communities.

In the past, Ghulam Arbab Rahim also tried to sell the islands to a Dubai-based real estate company when he was the Sindh chief minister. However, the coastal community foiled the attempt through a show of strength and demonstrations.