• Basement partially closed owing to ‘non-conforming use’ of space
• PTI accuses govt of trying to get back at AJK prime minister for ‘censuring’ Shehbaz
ISLAMABAD: After a day-long closure due to purported violations of building by-laws, the Capital Development Authority (CDA) re-opened the Centaurus Mall, barring parts of its basement, on Jinnah Avenue following protests by the traders’ community.
The mall had been sealed by the civic body in the morning for “non-conforming use and other violations”. The move prompted strong protests with the traders demanding the reversal of the decision.
Subsequently, the CDA partially de-sealed the building in the evening. However, late in the evening, the entire mall was de-sealed except for the basement which remained partially closed owing to non-conforming use of space. According to the CDA, only parking will be allowed in the basement – for which it was constructed – and offices and other similar infrastructure there will remain locked up.
The decision to briefly shut down the mall came after an argument between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Azad Jammu Kashmir Prime Minister Sardar Tanvir Ilyas during a ceremony in Mangla on Monday. PM Sharif had inaugurated the refurbishment project of units 5 and 6 of the Mangla Dam Hydroelectric Power Plant, built on the Jhelum River in Mangla area of Azad Kashmir, where he was addressing the project’s inauguration ceremony.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan claimed that the ‘PDM mafia’ sealed the mall in response to PM Ilyas censuring PM Sharif. “Sealing of Centaurs Mall by PDM mafia in response to PM AJK censuring Shehbaz Sharif for not mentioning sacrifices of Kashmiris shows there is law of the jungle in Pak since last 8 months. Sends negative signals to Kashmiris too,” he claimed on Twitter.
PTI General Secretary Asad Umar said that when AJK PM “showed the mirror to Shehbaz Sharif, the government became vindictive and sealed [the] mall to cause PM AJK financial and business losses- this is naked fascism”,
However, the CDA said the move to shut down the mall had nothing to do with the spat between the premiers. Its spokesperson, Syed Asif Raza, said the mall was not “sealed because of [a] political issue”.
“The sealing operation is purely a routine activity; we served a number of notices to its owners for violations before sealing it [on Tuesday],” he said, adding that written orders regarding the sealing of the shopping mall were issued and conveyed to the owners on Dec 2 – days before the Shehbaz-Ilyas tiff.
The spokesperson said the CDA had already sealed a number of buildings in Islamabad while notices had also been served to all violators regardless of the locations of the buildings.
“We have issued notices to buildings operating in Blue Area and other parts of the city,” he said and added that actions have been and would be taken against all violators.
The spokesperson said the CDA was an autonomous organisation. “We have nothing to do with the affairs of both prime ministers; we work on merit,” he added.
Almost all highrises in Islamabad have been operating without having a completion certificate, also known as an occupancy certificate, owing to a lenient approach by the CDA. Similarly, there are also violations in the main hotels of the city.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2022