Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2019
KARACHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday imposed a complete ban on conversion of residential and amenity plots into commercial spaces in Karachi and directed the authorities concerned, including cantonment boards, to review all such conversions allowed by them in the provincial capital.
A two-judge SC bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed also barred the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) from approving multistorey buildings on residential plots as well as amenity spaces and directed it to review the matters of all illegal constructions in the city within one month.
“All constructions which are illegally and unlawfully made in the city of Karachi shall be reviewed by the SBCA within a period of one month and a report in this respect shall be submitted to this court, which should recommend the solution as to how these illegal and unlawful constructed buildings can be demolished and the plot/land put to its original use and how the people, who are occupying such buildings, will be compensated and provided alternate accommodation by SBCA from the funds generated by its own staff,” read the court order.
The ban would also be applicable in cantonment boards; SBCA gets one month to review all ‘illegal’ constructions
Expressing serious concerns with the SBCA for allowing illegal constructions and conversions, the apex court asked a provincial law officer to take instructions from the Sindh government regarding taking over the authority’s functions, including master plan of all cities of the province, and submit its response on the next date of hearing.
The bench also directed the chief secretary to be in attendance on Jan 24 to make a statement in this regard.
During the hearing, SBCA director general Iftikhar Qaimkhani conceded that amenity plots, playgrounds and parks were being allowed to be occupied and converted and used for commercial exploitation.
In a previous hearing, the apex court had directed Mr Qaimkhani to remove and demolish all the illegal constructions including marriage halls, shopping centres, apartments and fuel stations established in Jam Sadiq Ali Park and restore it to its original condition.
However, the bench observed that nothing had been done so far, rather an effort was made to justify the conversion of the park into a commercial plot.
The SBCA chief again stated that he would ensure to restore the park to its original position after removing all encroachments within a period of four weeks.
The bench granted him the required time and asked him to come up with a compliance report.
‘Epidemic’ of wedding halls, shopping centres
Justice Ahmed observed that besides Jam Sadiq Ali Park,