KARACHI: Soon after the beginning of the monsoon spell in Karachi, the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) issued on Thursday eviction notices to the residents of over 354 unsafe buildings across the city, informing them of the danger of living in those decaying structures during the rain.
According to the SBCA, a total of 354 buildings were declared ‘not liveable’ by its technical committee, which comprises of construction experts and engineers, during an inspection campaign. Of these, around 250 are in the old city area alone. The structures of these buildings have lost their strength to bear the load and can collapse anytime.
After formally approaching the residents of the dangerous buildings with eviction notices, the authority was seeking the help of the district municipal corporations (DMCs) to forcibly evacuate the buildings, SBCA Technical Director Askhar Dawar told The Express Tribune.
“We are employing two methods of getting the buildings vacated. The first is joining hands with the DMCs and the other regards convincing residents to vacate the structures voluntarily because it is for their own good,” Dawar explained.
Unfortunately, he lamented, not a single resident was ready to leave the buildings, despite being apprised of its hazardousness in detail. “They have seen the dangers of living in such structures themselves. Most of them have narrowly escaped or survived the mishaps. Still they are adamant to stay.”
In the dangerous-declared buildings, a considerable portion is composed of evacuee properties that migrants from India were allotted to live in during Partition. Most of these buildings are situated on MA Jinnah Road and its surrounding areas.
Dawar said the authority was also working on a proposal with the Association of Builders and Developers to demolish these hazardous buildings and construct new structures on their lots and lease them to the residents for a stipulated time period.
“This is still in the pipeline because the residents haven’t agreed to this mechanism either. They have apprehensions that they might lose their houses as most of them have obtained these residences illegally,” he commented.
Meanwhile, Dawar ruled out the impression that the SBCA only swings into action during emergencies. He clarified that teams specifically tasked with the dangerous buildings issue were active throughout the year but residents never cooperated.
“If things remained the same, the use of power to vacate these buildings will be inevitable. Still, we are first considering other options like arranging substitute residences for the over 1,000 families living in those buildings,” he told.
A statement issued by the SBCA reads that an emergency was imposed and dedicated teams to deal with the issue of these buildings were active in three shifts all towns across the city.