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KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Saturday restrained the Bahria Town Karachi from constructing any building of more than six storeys.

A three-member bench of the court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing a petition filed by the Association of Builders and Developers (Abad) against illegal construction of high-rise buildings in Bahria Town Karachi.

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Counsel for Abad Advocate Faisal Siddiqui contended that construction work was being carried out in the housing society without permission of the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA).

He argued that Bahria Town was constructing buildings of more than six storeys in violation of an apex court order.

“Any construction beyond six storeys in Bahria Town Karachi is prohibited till further orders,” CJP Nisar ruled. “In case of non-compliance, not only the management of Bahria Town but its chairman and chief executive officer will also be held responsible,” he added.

The apex court had earlier imposed a ban on construction of high-rise buildings in the society on March 16, 2017 and had restrained the SBCA and cantonment boards from issuing building approval plans for new high-rise and multi-storey commercial and residential projects.

The judgement came in a matter relating to non-availability of potable water and deteriorating sanitation conditions in Karachi and the rest of the province, and the court only allowed construction of buildings with ground plus first floors.

However, on Jan 14 the court granted provisional permission to builders for construction of six storeys in the city after Abad and other such bodies had moved the court for review of its March 16 judgement. They contended that SBCA had imposed a ban on construction of multi-storey buildings in the city due to the recommendation of a judicial commission though there was no shortage of water but there was a problem of water distribution.

The chief justice had observed that construction business was linked with other industries and he did not want to close it down, but shortage of water was a major problem of the city and the court had to determine whether or not people’s rights were affected due to the permission granted for construction of high-rise buildings.

The court warned the builders that if permission for construction of six-storey buildings was violated, then “exemplary cost” would be imposed on the owner of the building concerned and the money would be given to the buyers.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018