A huge number of people took to the streets in Karachi demanding bolder action by the provincial and federal governments in fighting climate change and an end to force demolition.
Women, youngsters, children, and men participated in the march, which started from Nehr-e-Khayyam and headed to the Bilawal Chowk. The demonstration began at 2pm.
People rendered displaced by demolition operations at Gujjar and Organgi nullahs participated in the march.
When the protesters started marching towards the Bilawal Chowk they were stopped by the police. After negotiations, the march resumed. Protesters however, were only given permission to proceed to the Karachi Grammar School (KGS).
The marchers proceeded to the KGS and staged a sit-in there.
The marchers, among many others, had a few main demands:
- End forced displacement of marginalised communities
- A people-cratered resolution to the water crisis in Karachi
- Right to clean air
- Reforms in SEPA
The protesters held placards and chanted slogans against the government demanding their rights.
"Hum kya chahte hain, apni chatt. Hum kya chahte hain, apni zameen, " was one of the most popular slogans at the march as protesters demanded a roof over their heads and a piece of land they could own.
Syed Arif, a protester and representative of the Orangi and Gujjar nullah victims, told SAMAA Digital that people living near the stormwater drains have not been compensated by the Sindh government yet.
"People have been forced to live under open skies," Arif said.
On the other hand, some affectees said that compensation was not enough. They wanted the government to provide them with alternate housing.
Roshan, a resident of Orangi Town, said, "Building a house takes years. It takes effort and hard work. How can you expect us to go back to normal by just giving us money? Have you ever been thrown out of your house? Have you seen your home demolished in front of your eyes?"
Another marcher, Ahmed Shabbar, an environmentalist, told SAMAA Digital that the march in 2019 was held for awareness. "This year it's a protest and our theme is housing and land rights."
Shabbar said that elite people or those in power can't displace people as they have done with the nullah affectees. "You have allowed people to live in DHA even though it has been proven that the locality has no legal rights to reclaim land."
He called the Sindh Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) a "scam".
This year's climate march has a bit of a twist. A number of performers, including the Baluch Twins and Hassan Bin Shaheen, took over the stage with their rap. They used their art as a means to put forward their demands.
Justice for Karachi - its people, its environment
The Climate March Karachi has been organised by the Karachi Bachao Tehreek among several other civil society organisations. This year, the People's Climate March was held to demand justice - for this city, its environment, and its people.
According to a statement issued by the organisers, Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan, is facing a climate crisis that is now a reality for its precarious citizens.
"The city is vulnerable to all kinds of climate-related risks, from drought and floods to extreme heat and rising sea level. However, instead of devising policies that preserve and protect the remaining ecology of the city and safeguard the rights of its vulnerable citizens -- state institutions bolster powerful real estate developers; land, construction, and water mafias; that blatantly rob Karachi citizens of their rights to a healthy life," it stated.