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Home > English > Website archives > Rainbow of Crisis > Poverty of Development


Poverty of Development

Wednesday 5 March 2008, by Feroz Mehdi

Recently the federal government of Pakistan signed a contract with
Nakeel group of Limitless, a UAE based private company for
construction of a new Water Front Sugar City off the Karachi coast.
According to the plan this proposed new city will be built on 60,000
acres of land. The estimated cost of the mega project has been put at
$.68 billion.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), a social movement struggling for
rights of the fishing community of Pakistan strongly condemned the
Pakistan government’s plan. In a consultative meeting called by the
PFF on March 5, 2008 in Abdul Rehman village, Hawks Bay, Karachi,
more than three hundred people from various organizations
participated. Amongst the participants were several recently elected
members of the Sindh National Assembly. Opposing this plan, Pakistan
Fisherfolk Forum stressed that it would have dire consequences on the
lives of the already marginalized and poor fishing communities. “This
project is totally anti-human and illegitimate in its essence. PFF
has invariably rejected any development process done at the expense
of life and livelihood of poor people”, said the Chairperson of the
PFF Mr. Mohammad Ali Shah.

The project initiated by the Pakistan government and Limitless
Company violates the right to adequate standard of living of the
people guaranteed under Article 11 of the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) that states, "The
States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of
everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his
family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the
continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will
take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right,
recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international
cooperation based on free consent”.

All participants in the meeting convened by the PFF expressed their
concerns about this mega project which they said will result in
destruction of basic and traditional source of livelihood of the poor
fishing communities and that it would render the entire marine
ecological system terribly unsustainable. Hundreds of fishing grounds
would be annihilated and unemployment among poor members of the
fishing communities will dramatically increase. Mangroves forests,
already being rapidly destroyed, will suffer more due construction of
this new city.

Mr. Muhammad Ali Shah Chairman Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF
condemned this decision as being a sheer violation of human rights
and dignity. “Government should not build or construct the cities at
the cost of lives and livelihoods of the community. The community is
a historical custodian of the coastal area, we will not allow any one
to enter our homes and grounds without our permission”, he added.

Shah further said that the powerful lobbies in the country have
always been behind these so called development projects. Thousands of
poor fishermen do subsistence fishing and their livelihood depends on
fishing grounds near the islands and creeks. “Since the development
wizards of this country are mesmerized by the scent of dollars,
therefore they have turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to long term
negative effects of tempering with the natural resources of the
coast. Since poor fishermen are always treated as third rate
citizens, no one bothers to think about the colossal damage to be
caused on their livelihood”.

Shah appealed to all national, international organizations, media,
social, human rights and development groups and experts to
immediately intervene into the matter and save the lives and
livelihood of the poor people of the coastline of Karachi.

In order to mobilize public opinion PFF is organizing a series of
public campaigns and protests that will continue till their demands
are met.

Feroz Mehdi is general secretary of Alternatives International