SUKKUR: Sindh High Court’s Suk­kur bench on Saturday repeated its order for the demolition of illegally raised structures, including a large number of multistorey buildings, in the city.

Almost all of the buildings ordered to be razed are built by private parties. They are either standing on state-owned properties, like amenity plots, or have annexed parts of such plots.

After going through various surveys and revenue record, the court had a few months back ordered demolition of all such structures in order to retrieve state-owned properties. It had allowed considerable time to the district administration and relevant departments to get these properties vacated from their occupants and had also set deadlines. However, the eviction process could not be completed as yet for various reasons.

The district administration with the assistance of law enforcement agencies launched several anti-encroachment drives in different areas during the period and, at some places, faced resistance from the affected people.

The issue of razing multistorey buildings remained unresolved due to complications as some of them housed major private hospitals and in some case a large number of families had to arrange for alternative accommodations for themselves.

Panic and chaos prevails in the city’s targeted areas following SHC’s back-to-back directives for execution of its demolition orders over the last few months.

On Saturday, the bench comprising Justice Aftab Ahmed Gorar and Justice Faheem Ahmed Siddiqi, issued its order which was reserved on Thursday after the latest hearing of a constitutional petition (No. D-754/2008) by a citizen, Sajjadullah Qureshi, against rampant land-grabbing and violation of building laws in the construction of many buildings in the city. The petitioner had cited the local government, provincial housing and town planning department, taluka municipal administration, city survey officer/mukhtiarkar and private firm as respondents.

The petitioner had stated in his petition that citizens had been deprived of recreation and entertainment due to the land-grabbing and unlawful construction in the city on a large scale. He had identified a number of amenity plots grabbed by private parties to build multistorey buildings over them. The illegally-raised buildings housed the Sukkur Chamber of Commerce, Iqra Arcade, Al-Khidmat Foundation and several residential plazas, he revealed.

In its order, the bench asked the district administration and municipal corporation to immediately get vacated the office of the Sukkur Chamber of Commerce, located on Bandar Road, as well as a pizza shop, a 12-storey building on Minara Road and five multistorey buildings including Iqra Arcade and Al-Khidmat Foundation, in order to facilitate their demolition.

The court strictly ordered the administration to submit a compliance report after the buildings, declared illegal in its February 2020 order, were vacated.

The matter has been adjourned to Feb 3.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2021

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