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ISLAMABAD: Often in the news for permitting controversial commercial buildings, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) is now embroiled in a new scandal after its building control directorate approved the design for a double-storey petrol station.

Documents available with Dawn state that in 2016, the CDA, in violation of its own laws and regulations, approved the design for a double-storey building on a petrol station on Kashmir Highway.

Sources said that in this case, it was not the director but his subordinate staff that approved the design, allowing a petrol station to have a ground plus first floor.

CDA bylaws permit a maximum of 20pc of ground coverage in its parameters from petrol stations, which can be used as tuck shops, tyre shops and service stations. Only one storey is allowed, with the minimum setbacks of 20ft at the front, 10ft at the side and 10ft at the rear.

Permission for double-storey petrol station design issued in 2016 to be withdrawn soon, says director

The operator is also bound to provide public toilets.

Some CDA officials said the operator the station was not at fault, because he was allowed a double-storey building in an official letter issued on Nov 28, 2016.

Building Control Director Faisal Naeem confirmed to Dawn that the authority’s bylaws only permit single-storey buildings.

“I do agree that the petrol pump in question was given illegal approval,” he said, adding that the authority has decided to cancel the permission it granted.

When asked why no action was taken in the last two years, he said: “This approval was given before my joining building control. But when the matter came to my notice, I brought it to the notice of the member planning, who agreed that the illegal permission must be withdrawn.” He added that permission would be withdrawn soon.

The CDA has given undue favours to developers in the past through notifications, such as the illegal three storeys at Safa Gold Mall, a case in which the concerned CDA officials and the owner of the building are now facing prison trials.

Some officials have claimed that most building control officials have privately been working as consultants to design buildings – a glaring conflict of interest that they said must be stopped in the greater interest of the authority.

Over a hundred buildings have been constructed in various areas, such as H-13 and E-11, because of negligence on the part of the CDA.

“The approval of the double-storey petrol station is the tip of the iceberg.

A proper investigation is needed into all the approvals given by the building control directorate during the last five years.

Then, I guess, a large number of such cases will emerge,” said an official who asked not to be named.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2018