Call to annul approval to hold food festival at Benazir Bhutto Park

KARACHI: A concerned NGO has severely condemned the decision of the city’s municipal authorities to allow a main public park in Clifton area to host an upcoming food festival saying that holding such commercial events in public parks violates the very basic purpose for which these urban open spaces are basically meant for, says a Press release.
In a press statement issued on Wednesday, the President of National Forum for Environment and Health (NFEH) Naeem Qureshi said that Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in Clifton area should not be used to host the upcoming “Karachi Eat Food Festival” from 12 January to 14 January, 2018.
He said that previously Frere Hall Gardens were used as the venue for holding the same food festival, which was also an inappropriate place to organize such an activity. As the event drew massive crowd of visitors in previous years, the festival was rightly considered responsible for serious vehicular traffic mess on almost all main roads of adjoining area of District South of the city during the evening rush hours.
The NFEH president said that relevant municipal and environmental laws of Sindh government and also the relevant rules and regulations of Karachi Municipal Administration didn’t allow use of the main public park in a busy area of the city for such a brazen commercial activity involving so much heavy presence of prospective visitors and customers.
“The public parks are like essential public open spaces in a city like Karachi and in no way their spaces should be used to host such a brazen commercial activity, which has every potential to damage the very basic components and essentials of a park,” he said.
He said that Karachi had already been facing serious dearth of essential urban open spaces owing to unstoppable activities by unscrupulous elements attempting to commercialize the ever shrinking amenity land of Karachi.
He said the park’s space was prone to serious damage as the food festival was expected to draw a massive crowd of visitors. This factor combined with other activities, which would be carried out at the park to establish stalls by different food outlets to serve people, posed serious threat to very existence of the park. Such damage is feared to become irreversible as often the city’s municipal authorities didn’t have sufficient funds at their disposal to do repair and maintenance works to uplift state of such amenity spaces of Karachi.
“Such festivals should take place in Karachi to boost its cultural and social life but such events should not be held at the cost of upkeep and maintenance of a main park in the city,” said Qureshi.
He said that parks had an important role to play in improving environmental conditions of the city so for the larger good of Karachi their spaces should not be used for holding such commercial ventures.
The NFEH president said that all relevant officials of Sindh government and that of the KMC should wake up to this situation and issue directives to cancel the permission for holding the upcoming food festival at the space of a major park in the city.
He said the Sindh chief minister, provincial ministers for Environment and Local Govt, and mayor of Karachi should take stock of the situation and issue directives to the officials concerned to take the remedial measures on emergency basis so to save and conserve the civic situation of the city from utter crash.
Such directives should be issued keeping in view the fact that the Sindh government from time to time had issued directives to the relevant municipal officials to ban use of space of the public parks for such private event.