ISLAMABAD, Nov 23: An advertisement brought out by the Islamabad Electric Supply Company (Iesco) on Friday asking violators of building by-laws to convert their domestic tariff meters into commercial ones has not gone down well with the capital’s civic agency.

It is being alleged that Iesco issued the notice under pressure from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), who wants to appease the local business community as elections are around the corner.

It will provide legal cover to the businessmen to regularise their businesses in residential areas, sources in the CDA insisted.

In the appeal-cum-public notice, Iesco stated: “Some of domestic consumers have established offices, beauty parlours, guest houses, hostels and clinic in their residences, and therefore misusing their domestic tariff for commercial purpose.

“All such respected consumers who are carrying out commercial activities of whatever nature at residential buildings on domestic tariff are requested to approach Iesco offices concerned for change of their tariff before November 30.”

At least 1,200 violators of the city’s building bylaws are expected to benefit from this scheme.

The Capital Development Authority (CDA) was not taken on board about the advertisment as it has expressed its concern over it.

CDA spokesman, Ramzan Sajid, told Dawn that the civic authority’s chairman would soon approach Iesco officials in this regard.

“The chairman will take up the matter with Iesco and hopefully the conversions will be blocked,” claimed the spokesman.

The spokesman could not provide dates for when the matter will be taken up with Iesco.

Meanwhile, a source within Iesco said that the move was made under political duress.

“It’s a political move to benefit blue-eyed businessmen running their businesses in residential sectors,” said the source.

Civil court lawyer Rehman Abbasi observed that if Iesco went through with the conversions, it would hurt the CDA’s drive to limit commercial activities in residential units.

“It will give legal cover to violators of building by-laws since they can take a legal stand against the CDA by getting a stay order from courts in their favour,” he said.

“CDA’s anti-encroachment drive in slum areas has suffered because of meter conversions. Land encroachers in squatter settlements have taken stay orders from the courts on the basis of the fact that they have electricity and gas connections, and the civic agency’s drive to demolish their property is thus illegal,” he explained.

A CDA official maintained that advertisement is controversial and Iesco should issue a clarification over the matter since it would damage their drive against illegal businesses running their shops in residential sectors of the city.

A civil society member on the request of anonymity said that the Building Control Department and CDA’s board along with its chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz should thoroughly investigate the issue.

“We will approach the Supreme Court, if Iesco fails to withdraw its advertisement,” he said.

A CDA building control official maintained if Iesco continues with the conversion of commercial tariff it would clip the (CDA’s) powers to limit the rapid expansion of commercialization in the city.

Iesco spokesman, Mohammad Farooq, directed this reporter to approach an Iesco official on a number given in the advertisement. When contacted the official refused to share any details.

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