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ISLAMABAD: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has asked the Foreign Office (FO) to use its influence to rectify building violations made by embassies.

The authority’s building control section wrote to the Foreign Office on Friday to inform them that several embassies and missions are using their buildings without mandatory completion certificates.

The CDA’s member office will forward building control’s letters to the Foreign Office in the next few days.

Letters say embassies of UAE, US, Turkey, Canada, the Vatican, Saudi Arabia and Iran occupied without completion certificates

According to the CDA, the embassies of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United States, Turkey, Canada, the Vatican, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been using their buildings without completion certificate.

One of the letter reads: “Attention is invited to occupation of building of Embassy of U.A.E constructed in Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad without obtaining the completion certificate from the Capital Development Authority.”

It also states: “It is informed that as per clause 2.8 of Islamabad Residential Sectors Zoning (Building Control) Regulations 2005, no building can be occupied or used without obtaining completion certificates - permission to occupy - from the Authority.”

Similar letters have been written regarding the other aforementioned embassies as well.

Sources in the authority said certificates are issued after a complete inspection of the building, its fire safety and emergency arrangements, the implementation of its building plan and ensuring the structural stability of the building.

Building Control Director Faisal Naeem confirmed that the authority “through the Foreign Office” has “written to several embassies such as the US, UAE, Turkey, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others for completion certificates”.

Although CDA by-laws state that no building in Islamabad can be occupied without first getting a completion certificate, the practice is common in buildings in Islamabad – particularly multi-storey buildings.

“There is no major issue for foreign missions and embassies. They will fix the issue when we press them; the main issue of completion certificates is related to commercial buildings operating in various areas of Islamabad,” a building control inspector said.

He added that most of Islamabad’s commercial buildings are being run without completion certificates.

“When we talk about high-rise buildings, you can say that over 90pc of buildings are operating without completion certificates,” the inspector added. He said Centaurus is one such building operating without a completion certificate.

Silver Oaks, Al-Mustafa Towers, Safa Gold Mall, the stock exchange and the UBL building are also being operated without completion certificates, as was Awami Markaz, which caught fire last year and was operating without occupancy or completion certificates.

Around a hundred commercial buildings in E-11 also lack completion certificates, while thousands of buildings in the capital’s rural areas, except for one building on Park Road, are operating without the approval of their building plans or subsequent completion certificates.

The building control director said he has begun a campaign to issue notices to the operators of all such buildings.

“We have issued a large number of notices during the last few days,” he said, adding that the CDA could move toward the discontinuation of utility services if commercial building operators do not get completion certificates.

A CDA official explained that building operators do not seek completion certificates because they build in violation of the building plans that were approved by the CDA. It is mandatory for the issuance of a completion certificate for the building in question to be constructed according to the building plan.

The official added that with regards to buildings in rural areas that are constructed without even a building plan, the civic authority is at fault for its negligence, as there has been no effort to regulate buildings in rural areas. However, he said, attention is now being given to rural areas.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2018