KARACHI: The Supreme Court (SC) ruled on Saturday that the ban imposed on construction of high-rise buildings in specific residential and commercial localities will remain in force in the metropolis.
A two-judge bench, comprising justices Faisal Arab and Sajjad Ali Shah, passed this order while disposing of an application seeking review of the apex court’s May, 2017 order banning high-rise constructions beyond six floors. The special bench was constituted to hear the matter relating to supply of clean drinking water and sanitation across the province at the SC’s Karachi Registry.
At the outset of the hearing, the judges ruled that the ban will remain in force till further orders are given.
Justice Arab, the bench’s head, remarked that if constructions of high-rise and multi-storey buildings were allowed and six upper floors were permitted, the whole city would turn into a jungle.
The bench clarified to the builders that the court’s previous order permitting private builders and developers to construct buildings only up to six floors should not be misinterpreted. “By passing this order, the court has not made any rule in this regard, it has just placed a ban on raising constructions beyond the sixth floor,” the judge explained.
The bench members directed that the restrictions imposed on the construction of the upper floors of the buildings in specific residential and commercial localities of the city would remain in force as usual. They also maintained the court’s earlier order banning construction of buildings beyond six floors and disposed of the application.
In May last year, the SC had restrained the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and cantonment boards from issuing building approval plans for new high-rise and multi-storey commercial and residential projects without the availability of proper water supply and sewerage systems.
The top court was compelled to slap a ban on new projects being allowed by the government sans proper planning to resolve the worsening crisis of potable drinking water and deteriorating sewerage system in Karachi and the rest of the province.
The court had also directed the private builders and developers association to write a proposal on installation of treatment plants in each multi-storey project in order to resolve the problems relating to sewerage.
Subsequently, the SBCA had stopped approval of new building plans for skyscrapers. Later, the private builders and developers association approached the SC, pleading to review its restraining order.
The court was informed that 308 under-construction projects had been stalled due to the SBCA’s ban on high-rise buildings, which was causing heavy monetary losses to builders. The court was assured that all these buildings had proper water supply and sewerage systems while the builders were also ready to install desalination plants in each building to manage sewage-related issues.
Upon such assurance, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar had modified the earlier order by permitting construction of high-rise buildings ‘only’ up to six upper floors, subject to availability of proper water supply and sewerage system in new projects across the province.
The court had cautioned the builders and developers to ensure that no units will be booked beyond this limit in their projects.