KARACHI: The Sindh government will soon establish a Sindh Urban and Regional Master Plan Authority as a draft of the proposed authority has been sent to the law department for vetting, officials said on Tuesday.

Soon after vetting, they added, the draft would be submitted to the cabinet for approval before formally being made into law by the Sindh Assembly.

This was discussed at a meeting, presided over by Sindh Chief Secretary Mumtaz Ali Shah, at his office where officials of the local government and planning and development ministries gave detailed presentations on the proposed project.

The meeting was informed that legislation was required to establish the Sindh Urban and Regional Master Plan Authority separately from the Sindh Building Control Authority.

The chief secretary asked LG Secretary Roshan Ali Sheikh to submit the draft plan to the cabinet without delay. Officials said the main idea behind establishing a separate authority was to take care of the increasing urban façade of Sindh by introducing modern methods to manage cities and towns.

They said being the largest city of the country, Karachi would be the most preferred such place in the new scheme of things. However, given the fact that more than half of the province’s population had turned urban, as the recent census figures showed, developing its other cities and towns on modern methods being employed elsewhere in the world was imperative.

Officials said the draft for the authority had been made painstakingly by accommodating suggestions and recommendations by experts in the field. However, it could further be amended in the light of the debate in the cabinet meeting, where it would be presented for approval. Besides, the provincial legislature could even fine tune it further if the initial draft was recommended to a standing committee for detailed consideration before it was formally presented in the house for adoption.

Dangerous buildings

The meeting also reviewed the recent incidents in which buildings collapsed in Karachi and Sukkur.

Commissioner Karachi Iftikhar Shallwani told the meeting that people used to get no-objection certificates for constructing ground-plus-one structures, but it was normal that they would put up much taller structures than the officially approved plans.

Zaffar Abbas, director general of the Sindh Building Control Authority, informed the meeting that the building that recently collapsed in Karachi’s Timber Market area was already declared dangerous by the SBCA. But, instead of vacating it, residents continued to live in the unsafe structure.

Mr Abbas said currently there were 382 dangerous buildings in the Old City area for which public had duly been informed through advertisements.

Chief Secretary Shah asked the SBCA chief to submit a detailed report about those 382 dangerous buildings and also initiate action under the law against the builders who were constructing illegal structures.

The CS constituted a committee headed by the city commissioner for preparing a rehabilitation plan for the residents of the dangerous buildings.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020