On April 25, 2018, the foundation of the new campus of Convent of Jesus and Mary (CJM) in Block 5, Clifton, Karachi, was laid on the 5,000 square yard plot by the Sindh Chief Minister, Murad Ali Shah.
However, the construction of the new campus was stopped after only 22 days and the plaque of the foundation stone was demolished, allegedly after intervention by a person with clout. The magnitude of their power can be assessed by the fact that no one is ready to even mention the name of the person on whose orders the Karachi administration halted the construction work.
CJM is one of the oldest educational institutions in the country with several campuses all over Pakistan, the oldest of which was established in Sialkot in 1856. The all-girl’s school is a renowned institution with many prominent personalities having studied here. The Karachi campus was inaugurated in 1957.
According to the school’s administration, they are in possession of all the documents and permits regarding the school’s expansion from the Karachi Development Authority (KDA) and Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to establish its right to the land. Sources say that the school administration tried to continuously contact the KDA, SBCA and Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) after construction was halted by force but they have been unable to obtain any answers or assistance so far.
Tracing the history of the land, the notification said that the 40, 000 square yard plot, numbered ST-21 in Clifton Block 5, was subdivided by the KDA in 1986 whereby 39,344.62 square yards were allotted to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to construct a squash complex while the remaining portion which was assigned the number 21-B, was reserved for the development of a park.
In May 2012, the CAA and CJM signed a deed whereby CAA gifted 5,000 square-yards of the 39,344.62 square-yards to CJM for educational purposes. In May 2013, an agreement was signed between the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) and Karachi Grammar School (KGS) where the area reserved for the park was assigned to KGS under the KMC’s ‘Adopt a park’ policy.
Records of the KDA and KMC both show that various plans prepared in 1985, 2012 and 2013 show different demarcations of the site allocated to the CAA and the site reserved for the park, which is the reason for the dispute between CJM and KGS.
According to an official press note issued on Saturday, the chief secretary’s office has taken notice of the situation and ordered an inquiry to ascertain the facts from the relevant records based on which the sites will be demarcated for the park and school as per the correct interpretation of the master plan.