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SHC seeks reply from real estate firm, others in Clifton project case

December 09, 2014

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WORK under way on the mega road project being carried out by the Bahria Town construction firm through the historical site in Clifton on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
WORK under way on the mega road project being carried out by the Bahria Town construction firm through the historical site in Clifton on Monday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Monday directed the Bahria Town, a real estate firm, and other defendants to file their respective replies on a lawsuit against the construction of Icon Tower, a 62-floor project in Clifton.

A single bench, headed by Justice Nazar Akbar, put off the hearing of the suit till Dec 22, asking the defendants to furnish their replies by Dec 12.

The suit was filed by former city administrator Fahim Zaman Khan, Amanath Khan (Power Engineering), Sam Mavalvala, Nazim Haji, Amina Jilani, architects Samar Ali Khan, Shahab Ghani Khan, Hasnain Lotia, Nooruddin Ahmed, Samir Hamid Dodhy, Derrick Dean, Arif Belgaumi, retired brigadier Javed Ashraf and Engineer Jethamal Khialani.

They impleaded the cabinet division secretary, chief secretary, director general of the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, Sindh Building Control Authority, Bahria Town (Pvt) Limited, Sindh Public Procurement Authority and Galaxy Construction (Pvt) Ltd as respondents.

The plaintiffs, represented by Advocate Kazim Hasan, contended that the Bahria Town’s project violated an order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The apex court had on Aug 10, 1993, ordered the Galaxy Construction to raise the building in accordance with the plan as approved by the Karachi Building Control Authority (now defunct) at the time and to ensure that the tenants of HussainD’Silva Park apartment complex (all 9,500 square yards of which had been demolished to make way for Icon Tower) be accommodated and given possession as provided by law in block ‘A’ of the building.

They said that the apex court had also directed that each flat would be not less than the covered area of 1790 sq ft.

The plaintiffs said the apex court had directed the respondents to construct the building within two years from the date the tenants had handed over the building’s possession, which took place on Feb 15, 1993.

Moreover, they said, almost half of the land being incorporated into the Icon Tower project was usurped from adjoining areas including 4,500 square yards of Bagh Ibne Qasim, 1560 sq-yard road, as well as several other chunks of parkland, designated as an amenity plot even in the revised layout plan, dated Nov 12, 1985, of Kehkashan KDA Scheme 5, Clifton.

The plaintiffs alleged that the usurpation was effected largely through bogus documents and illegal allotments in violation of rules and procedures.

They said that additional five acres (24,200 square yards) of the adjacent parkland was allocated for underground parking for the benefit of the defendant firm.

Hussain D’Silva Park, a housing complex, comprising six blocks of three-storey buildings, was constructed on land bearing Survey Nos. 5 & 6, Clifton, Karachi, measuring a total area of 9,436 square yards. Each flat had a built-up area of around 2,500 square feet.

The complex was purchased by the Galaxy Construction on June 28, 1990. The construction company later filed ejectment applications under the prevailing rent laws against the tenants in the housing complex on the plea that the building was required for reconstruction.

According to plaintiffs, it was asserted at that time that the construction company wanted to build flats after demolishing the existing ones according to an approved plan.

The plaintiff asked the court to declare that the tenants, who included two of the plaintiffs as well, were entitled to be put in possession in block-A of the building.

They further asked the court to declare that all construction raised in violation of the aforesaid approved plan was liable to be demolished.

They also sought a direction and mandatory injunction to the effect that the digging of roads and damage to the prime heritage sites of the city be restored and repaired with immediate effect.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2014