HYDERABAD: The judicial commission on water and sanitation has ordered the authorities to stop approving housing schemes and building projects throughout Sindh that have not been issued no-objection certificates by the civic agencies concerned.
"This order will extend to all the housing schemes and buildings where the work hasn't started yet," reads the order issued by the commission's head, Justice (retd) Amir Hani Muslim, following the hearing in Karachi on Tuesday.
"In the absence of certificates, all these schemes shall be cancelled and permissions, if granted, shall be withdrawn," the order reads.
The former Supreme Court judge specifically took up the case of Hyderabad where rampant violations of building rules and alleged connivance of the officials concerned had reduced the city to an urban mess.
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He went on to bar the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) and Hyderabad Development Authority (HDA) from approving housing schemes, apartments and commercial building projects in Hyderabad which lacked certification of the civic agencies. "This mushroom, ill-planned and unregulated growth of the housing schemes and multi-storey buildings...has also rendered the exercise of realignment of urban planning very difficult," Justice (retd) Muslim observed.
The commission asked the SBCA and HDA to submit a compliance report on April 23.
The commission also pointed out that many schemes in Hyderabad lacked prior approval from the utility agencies for the supply of water, gas and electricity. Justice (retd) Muslim observed that consequences of such residential projects were widespread because they affected the entire city.
To an inquiry, HDA Assistant Director Asghar Memon apprised the commission that the schemes approved without NOCs of the civic agencies were usually completed in eight to 10 years. His reply dismayed the commission, which noticed that instead of completing a project within a standard period of three years, the HDA's officials kept extending the deadlines of the projects.
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"This is very unfortunate and no less than an outright crime," Justice (retd) Muslim said. He observed that allottees suffered due to repeated extensions to the projects. The commission head said the authorities should approve the projects only after receiving NOCs from the civic agencies. "...it has landed Hyderabad in absolute urban mismanagement and entire water supply and sewerage schemes have failed."
On February 24, the commission had banned the use of solar panels to supply power to the water supply and drainage schemes in rural areas. The decision was based on the observation that the solar panels were being installed at schemes where the civil works were either incomplete or had been suspended for some reason.
However, the commission allowed on Tuesday the public health engineering department to install solar panels at schemes where civil works had been completed. "It is, however, clarified that unless the aforesaid conditions [of completing the civil works] are met, not a single penny [will] be released for installing the solar systems which will be sheer wastage of the public money."
Drinking water in Sehwan
Irked by non-compliance of its orders to provide clean drinking water to the residents of Sehwan, the commission sought record of funds released to the taluka municipal administration during the last three years. The commission also summoned the Sehwan town committee chairperson and chief municipal officer on April 23 to explain their 'defiance' of its orders.
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A recent water sampling carried out on the commission's directives had found physical, chemical and microbiological parameters in Sehwan's water injurious to human health.