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Non-conforming use Six houses sealed

December 07, 2012

ISLAMABAD, Dec 6: Though Islamabad’s civic agency avoided taking action against influential people running their businesses in residential sectors during the last over 10 years, it sealed six houses in one go on Thursday.  

“The six houses in sector F-6 and F-7 were sealed for their non-conforming use,” said an official of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) while talking to Dawn.

It may be noted that despite complaints by the residents, during the last over one decade the CDA could only sealed nine houses for violating the building by-laws. This showed how the authority’s hands were tied in implementing its own rules mainly because of political pressure. “We have sealed the houses on the directions of the CDA board. Chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz had approved the sealing of the houses being used for business purposes,” said the official of the building control department.

He added that the campaign against such houses would continue.

Under the rules of the building control division, the deputy commissioner of the CDA is empowered to seal residential premises being used for business purposes. He can also impose a fine of Rs500,000 on the violator, to which Rs5,000 can be added on a daily basis in case of continuous violation.

“First, house No 36 located in street-1 of F-6/3 was sealed for being used as an office,” according to a press release issued by the CDA.

It said in its day-long operation, the building control division also sealed house No 57 at School Road in Sector F-7/1. A boutique had been opened in this house. In the same locality, another illegal business entity was also closed. The residents of house No 49 in F-7/1 were running a beauty parlour and a studio on the premises.

In sector F-7/4, the civic authority sealed house No 1-A and house No 2 located in street 53 since owners of both the buildings were running commercial businesses there. “House No 1-A had a guesthouse while House No 2 had been turned into a furniture display centre,” said the press release.

It may be mentioned that according to a CDA building control division survey conducted in 2009, as many as 839 housing units were being used for commercial purposes.  Similarly, in 2011, the CDA identified 280 educational institutions housed in residential units.

About the sealing of the houses, an official in the CDA legal wing added: “We are just following a precedent set by the Supreme Court directive regarding violations of building by-laws in Lahore in 2007. As we have seen in the case of Lahore Development Authority (LDA), such a decision gives us courage to take action against the violators.”

It may be recalled that in 2007 the Supreme Court in a suo motu case had directed the LDA to demolish all structures established in violation of the building by-laws of the civic authority.

After taking over as chairman of the CDA in October this year, Syed Tahir Shahbaz had decided to strictly implement the building by-laws. Within the last about two weeks, the civic agency has also sealed eight farmhouses owned by influential people for non-conforming use.

In his recent interaction with Dawn, the CDA chairman had said: “We will be taking action as per the building rules against the owners who have violated the building code.”

He added that at first action would be taken against offices and guesthouses set up in residential areas.

“Establishment of offices in the residential sectors will not be allowed as there is enough space in the commercial sectors. The owners of these offices should shift their businesses to the commercial areas.”