KARACHI: Notices issued by the Sindh Building Control Authority to hundreds of marriage hall owners asking them to vacate their spaces within three days caused quite a stir as their association staged a protest demonstration outside the SBCA’s office on Saturday and warned that they would go on strike for an indefinite period.
However, Local Government Minister Saeed Ghani intervened and assured the Karachi Marriage Hall Owners Association that the government would not raze any hall in the city. Later in the evening, the association announced to take back its strike call.
Earlier in the day, traffic remained disturbed for over an hour on main University Road as owners of marriage halls staged a protest outside the Civic Centre that also houses the SBCA headquarters.
The owners blamed the SBCA for “exploiting the orders of the Supreme Court” while issuing notices to marriage halls, which were complying with all defined rules.
“We have some 900 members who have marriage halls and almost all of them have been served with SBCA’s notices,” said Rana Raees Ahmed of the Karachi Marriage Hall Owners Association. “The SBCA is actually exploiting the Supreme Court orders and causing harassment in the name of an anti-encroachment drive. We respect the orders but the SBCA must understand the concerns among the people who are doing legitimate business.”
The SBCA accused of ‘exploiting’ apex court’s orders; Saeed Ghani says no hall would be demolished
He said the protest by the association led to some realisation in the quarters concerned and the Sindh LG minister had invited the leaders of his body for talks.
He said the association had already called for a strike for an indefinite period that would also cause cancellation of all functions scheduled for Sunday and afterwards.
Later, Mr Ahmed told Dawn that the LG minister assured the association that no marriage hall would be demolished. Upon his assurance, the strike call had been withdrawn, he added.
Residential plots also commercialised in Islamabad
Chief Minister’s Law Adviser Murtaza Wahab said in a statement that Karachi was not alone where the status of residential plots was converted for commercial use.
“The federal government should be aware of the fact that Karachi is not alone or orphan,” he said. “The commercialisation of residential plots has also been done in Islamabad too. The federal government has double standard when it comes to the rights of Karachiites.”
He also blamed the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan for illegal practices in the past by taking control of state lands to raise unlawful structures.
“The Pakistan Peoples Party has never supported making the people homeless in the name of an anti-encroachment drive. It’s only after the clear stand of the PPP that the MQM is now trying to take credit over the protection of the rights of Karachiites,” said Mr Wahab. “The PPP has rebuilt Karachi from Keamari to Surjani Town. A conspiracy is being hatched by blocking the water of the port city. The votes of the PPP were given to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, but where does the PTI stand in Karachi now?”
Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2019