MURREE: The Punjab government is investigating the damage caused to Murree’s scenery by large scale illegal construction reported in print, electronic and social media.
Anti-Corruption Rawalpindi Division Director Kanwal Batool and her technical team paid a visit in this regard to Murree city to take a look at the illegal construction in Murree.
Sources said that the team prepared a detailed report on illegal construction in Murree.
On Monday, the Anti-Corruption Office has summoned concerned staffers from the Town Municipal Administration (TMA) and other authorities as well as the owners of some of the illegally-constructed buildings to the Rawalpindi office, where they will be asked for full statements and the illegal construction will be investigated.
Anti-Corruption team visited the site of the construction, will summon TMA staffers, building owners on Monday
A report will then be sent to the Punjab chief minister for necessary action, sources said.
Illegal construction of multi-storey buildings has continued in Murree during the lockdown imposed to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Locals have alleged that 10-storey buildings are being constructed in connivance with TMA staff.
The TMA must take action against illegal construction and constitute a clear policy on the construction of buildings so that map fees and other taxes go to the public exchequer rather than being paid in bribes, Rural Areas Development Organisation (RADO) President Hafiz Saeed Abbasi said.
He said that construction has been banned for more than 11 years, but influential figures have continued to build multi-storey buildings in violation of by-laws and the ban without paying a single rupee in government taxes or fees.
When contacted, Assistant Commissioner Zahid Hussain said that new building by-laws were in the final stage and the process of constituting by-laws was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Hussain, who is also the Murree Town administrator, said that once the new by-laws are formed, strict action will be taken against violations.
When asked about illegal construction in Kashmiri Bazaar, Rawat, Lawrence College bypass road and Jika Gali Road, he said action is being taken when a case is reported and only boundary walls were built in the case of the Murree Improvement Trust.
All kinds of construction has been banned in Murree for the last 12 years due to the surge in construction in the hill resort, where land is soft and heavy construction was not recommended under colonial rule when just two-storey buildings with wood roofs were permitted.
In 2006, the chief justice of Pakistan tooksuo motuon illegal construction when an eight-storey hotel collapsed, killing three people. The Supreme Court had constituted a committee to investigate the illegal means and other methods involved in the construction of such buildings; the committee has been working and according to sources will present its report in the SC soon.
Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020
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