On Tuesday, President Asif Ali Zardari gave businessmen and builders the green light they had been looking for – he said yes to high-rise buildings.
At a meeting with the Sindh Building Control Authority, the president said that it was time for the cities in Sindh to grow vertically, not just horizontally. He added that those involved in the venture would be facilitated.
Words such as facilitated, however, send alarm bells ringing for experts such as architect and city planner Arif Hasan and Amber Alibhai of Shehri-Citizens for a better environment. They are surprised that the president could make such sweeping statements. “Of course it is his prerogative,” Hasan said while talking to The Express Tribune. “But when making these decisions, one has to consider the traffic flow, volume of passengers, densities and etc. But at the end of the day, it is his decision.”
For Alibhai, the president’s decision came as a shock. “I did not know about this, it was nowhere on the news,” she said. “I guess the president knows where the water and electricity are coming from. Maybe that’s why he’s doing it. He would not make such a comment without being aware about the sort of infrastructure that is available for this.”
Back at the meeting, which was held at Bilawal House, the president checked up on other projects and decisions made at previous meetings. He asked about the committee which was formed to make permission grants to construct high-rise buildings, draft legislation and regulations. He said that builders should not worry about bureaucratic hurdles as they would be helped every step of the way.
According to Manzoor Qadir, the building authority’s director-general, in a fast-growing city like Karachi, it was important to use unified building bylaws. The Karachi Building and Town Planning Regulations of 2002 should be adopted for the sake of aesthetics and construction harmony.
On orders from the government, Qadir said that he had sent proposals for a High Rise Corridor in Karachi to experts for their feedback.
Qadir said that a board has been formed under the Sindh High Density Development Board Act of 2010, which was passed by the Sindh Assembly. With the governor, chief minister, chief secretary, district nazims, distric EDOs and Qadir on board, the DG was happy to announce that the government of Sindh had approved of the rules and procedure for the High Density Zone. Civil Aviation Authority’s DG Nadeem Khan Yusufzai presented the CAA’s point of view and put a set of suggestions forward.
The meeting was attended by Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad, Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, secretary general to the president, Salman Faruqui, Finance Minister Murad Ali Shah and the minister for local bodies, Agha Siraj Durrani.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2012.
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