Karachi marriage hall owners withdraw strike call

Published January 26, 2019
The protesters held a sit-in outside the SBCA office.— DawnNewsTV
The protesters held a sit-in outside the SBCA office.— DawnNewsTV

The All Karachi Marriage Halls Association (AKMHA) on Saturday withdrew the strike call only hours after announcing their decision to protest against the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) action against 'illegal' marriage halls in the metropolis, DawnNewsTV reported.

Earlier in the day, AKMHA president Rana Raees Ahmed, while addressing a protest demonstration outside the SBCA's head office in Civic Centre, had announced all ceremonies scheduled to be held in AKMHA-member marriage halls have been cancelled from Sunday onwards.

The move was likely to cause considerable distress and financial loss to citizens who had booked these halls. But the spokesperson of Sindh Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani later said that the marriage hall owners have agreed to take back their decision regarding the closure of marriage halls in Karachi.

The minister said that the Sindh government has decided to halt the operations against marriage halls starting Monday and will file a review petition in the Supreme Court.

"There will be no operation against marriage halls on Monday," he said adding that a commitee has been formed by the SBCA to address the matter.

The protesters, mostly owners of the wedding halls, held a sit-in outside the SBCA office and blocked the road leading to the old vegetable market area, resulting in a massive traffic jam on one side of University Road.

According to Ahmed, the authority has issued notices to 50 per cent of the marriage halls in districts East and Central, directing them to halt commercial activities on the plots.

Talking about their problems, the protesters told the media that the authority had given them three days to shift their business, which, according to them, was impossible.

The SBCA had given a three-day ultimatum to all businesses being run on amenity plots or residential plots, or converted plots to halt their activities.

They said that the SBCA, on the pretext of court orders, has also been issuing notices to marriage halls which had been constructed on plots legally converted into commercial from residential with the approval of competent authorities.

An SBCA notice.— Photo courtesy of author
An SBCA notice.— Photo courtesy of author

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court had directed the provincial authorities to demolish all illegal constructions in the city.

"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 had said while hearing a case pertaining to illegal constructions in the city.

The bench had ordered that 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.

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

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