MANSEHRA, March 5: The residents of Balakot have started reconstructing their houses and shops in the red zone, violating the ban imposed by the government on construction in the area.

“We are aware of reconstruction in red zone areas of Balakot. We served notices on these landowners to stop reconstruction otherwise their buildings will be demolished,” Mohammad Arif Baloch, the administrator of Balakot Tehsil Municipal Administration, told journalists on Saturday.

During to a visit to Balakot city, which was destroyed in October 8, 2005 earthquake leaving 20,000 persons dead, this correspondent witnessed that concrete buildings and shops were being constructed in the red zone. Work on some of the shops and houses was already completed.

An international team of seismologists and geologists from France, Japan, China and Pakistan in a report, compiled after the October 8, 2005 earthquake, had declared Balakot as red zone. The report had recommended to the government to shift the residents from the area to the safer places as 16 active fault lines were passing beneath it and could be more dangerous than that of October 8, 2005 earthquake if another quake hit Balakot.

One of the landowners, Saleem Khan, who was busy in constructing his shops, said that declaring Balakot as red zone was a conspiracy hatched by the then local body representatives against the landowners and influential of the area.

He claimed that government had not barred concrete construction in the area.

However, Mr Bacloch, when contacted, said that notices were served on landowners to stop constructing concrete structures immediately. He said that he was unaware that how concrete buildings were constructed in red zone areas as he was recently posted there.

He said that building concrete structure was restricted with the help of police. He added that he had informed provincial government and sought approval to demolish concrete buildings reconstructed in the red zone areas. If the government gave a go ahead signal, the concrete consecutions would be demolished, he said.