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SC orders authorities to raze unlawful constructions across Karachi

Updated January 22, 2019

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SBCA barred from issuing NoC until Environmental Protection Agency approves commercial projects. — APP/File
SBCA barred from issuing NoC until Environmental Protection Agency approves commercial projects. — APP/File

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed city authorities to demolish unlawful constructions across Karachi.

While hearing a case pertaining to illegal constructions in the megalopolis at the apex court's Karachi registry, the bench also barred the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) from issuing no-objection certificates (NoCs) for the construction of commercial buildings unless the projects are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as well.

The two-member bench hearing the case, comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, issued the orders.

The bench directed the authorities to demolish illegal constructions from Jam Sadiq Ali Park, Abdullah Gymkhana and other areas. The judges further directed relevant authorities to submit details of how they plan to raze unlawful constructions.

"Go and demolish every structure that is in violation of the city's original master plan and restore [Karachi] to its 40-year-old state," Justice Gulzar said during the hearing, adding that if the local government "was incapable of running the city, it should let the Sindh government to take over".

The bench told the provincial government to share its recommendations for restoration of Karachi to its 40-year-old state.

The bench further said ordered residential plots should not be used for commercial purposes and told authorities to submit details of shopping centres, wedding halls and plazas built on residential plots over the last 30 to 40 years.

"Eight-storey buildings are being constructed on government plots," Justice Gulzar lamented.

Justice Gulzar also lashed out at SBCA Director General Iftikhar Qaimkhani, who had appeared before the court today, saying that the body had "abandoned Karachi".

"SBCA only cares about minting billions of rupees," Justice Gulzar complained. He berated Qaimkhani for "increasing his bank balance and shutting his eyes" to illegal constructions all over the city.

"You must be accumulating wealth in Dubai or the United States," he said. Qaimkhani tried to assure the court that SBCA was working to fulfil court orders but Justice Gulzar told him to "speak less". The top court's judge said that government departments had "joined together to make money and ruined Karachi".

"Your clerk must be a millionaire if not a billionaire," Justice Gulzar said to SBCA's director general.

"Who is allowing the construction of wedding halls, shopping centres and plazas in every other street?" the judge asked. "Should we hand the city's control over to the federal government?"

Qaimkhani offered a meek apology and assured the bench that the SBCA will obey the court's orders. Justice Gulzar, however, was not satisfied and said that by allowing the construction of wedding halls in the city, SBCA had "created a new culture" of holding functions in expensive halls.