Save Gutter Bagicha (1017 Acre) and make it a Public Park
Plot No. K. 28/108
Gutter Baghicha forms the lungs of old karachi, the largest continuous open green space in this city of 13 million people. Located in SITE Town along the Manghopir Road, the most densely populated part of Karachi, Gutter Baghicha is a public amenity space, and it is used to be bigger - 1017 acres of greenery in the pre-independence Trans-Lyari area.
If we do not act now, we will lose what is left of this Baghicha - approximately 480 acres. With this will go the opportunity of reviving the only open space in old Karachi that can be redeveloped as a green area and made into a recreation space for generations to come. Every moment is vital.
What it Was
A Karachi Municipality map of 1892 shows that Plot No. K 28/108 is 113 years old and its surrounding area was transferred to the Karachi Municipality by the British Crown free of cost.
Its appellation of 'gutter' originated from storm drainage channels of Lyari River known as the Shone Drainage System. Later these channels also took the sewerage water, originating in the adjoining built up areas, which was then used to grow cereals, green fodder and vegetables. It later came to be known as the Sewage Farm.
At the time of partition, the Baghicha was referred to as 'the largest urban forest in Karachi'. Apart from the cultivated area, there were also large tracts of natural vegetation. Old inhabitants speak of deer roaming freely and of an abundance of flora and fauna. It was a place of natural beauty, recreation, peace and quiet.
In 1969 map of Karachi, Gutter Baghicha is shown as a 'Municipal Garden' spread over an area of 1016.76 acres. Technically, it is still all government land, meant for public recreation.
What it Has Now Become
In the past three decades Gutter Baghicha has become less and less of a 'baghicha' and more and more of a 'gutter'. According to the karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations (part II) of 1979 (page 61) and 2002 ( Reg. 19-3-4) plots like Gutter Baghicha can only be utilized for common public welfare. Growing population, unauthorized housing and the failure of government to provide sanitation systems has led to sewage from large parts of the city pouring into the Baghicha. A treatment plant, developed in 1961 to treat the sewage water, is no longer in working condition. However the storm water channels built by the British are still being used to bring water from Lyari River and wastewater from the Site industrial area and this mixed untreated water, unfit for human consumption, is illegally used for cultivation.
Memories of an Old Man
Fateh Muhammad Nazar is 75 years old. A native of old Golimar (near the Gutter Baghicha). He remembers Gutter Baghicha as a place of comfort and recreation. " Gutter Baghicha was like a jungle while I was a child. A very beautiful jungle. We used to sit under the trees. People who came from remote places, after long journeys on foot, used to take rest under the shady trees of Gutter Baghicha before continuing to their destinations. There were also deer in the area. I remember the shooting of two films, Ladla and Jaag Utha Insaan at this location.