Dawn News

ISLAMABAD, Feb 16: The city managers have decided to seek one-time waiver in height restriction for two under-construction hotel/apartment complexes in Islamabad.

“We are writing a letter to the Ministry of Defence for relaxation in the height restriction imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA),” said Murtaza Malik, the director general of building control section of the CDA, while talking to Dawn.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has the powers to give one-time waiver in the height restriction and, therefore, the defence ministry can refer the case to him.

Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is probing how the CDA could allow construction of “unlimited number of storeys” in the hotel/apartment complex near the Convention Centre and the Centaurus in Sector F-8.

“Some of our officials were called to the FIA headquarters and questioned about violation of the CAA height restriction,” confirmed a senior CDA official.

Before the projects got underway, buildings up to 20 storeys were permitted in the capital city.It is said that former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had directed the CDA in January 2007 not to put any limit on the storeys the builders of the complexes wanted to raise.

According to the documents seen by Dawn, the then management of CDA did not impose the height restriction on the builders of the latter project, with one official remarking, ‘sky is the limit.’ The BNP, a consortium of three companies, which is executing the project, planned to go up to 37 storeys.

Same relaxation was granted to the builders of the Centaurus residential-hotel complex.

As their work progressed, and the investors’ interest increased in the projects, the builders of the complexes changed their designs to more than 40 storeys. However, the CAA clipped their upward flight by barring them from going beyond 30 storeys.

The CAA rules do not allow buildings rising higher than 300 feet within the 15km radius of the airport.

The CDA official said the builders of the complexes had stopped installments of cost of the land they got in the ever highest bids linking it with removal of difficulties they were facing, including the height restriction and non-provision of services by the civic agency.

He said the builders of the complex near Convention Centre - BNP Group - had filed a suit against CDA, claiming Rs6.5 billion damages for not removing what they called ‘hurdles’ in the way of their project. The group claimed that the civic agency did not provide the facilities it promised while selling the land to it for Rs4.88 billion in an auction in 2007. The Centaurus builders got their land for Rs6.5 billion in the same auction.


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