KARACHI: Despite expert advice that the formula does not work, the Sindh government has decided to tackle overcrowding in the province’s cities by constructing tall buildings.
On Monday, it created a new body to tackle high-density zones by passing the Sindh High Density Development Board Bill, 2010. The board will consist of the governor, chief minister, chief secretary, secretary of Local Government, nazim, chief controller of buildings and EDO Master Plan.
While introducing the bill in the Sindh Assembly, local government minister Agha Siraj Durrani explained that the board would identify areas where the highrise buildings would be built with the approval of the building control authority. They would give preference to the coastal areas first. The treasury and opposition both supported the notion and the bill was passed unanimously.
Syed Sardar Ahmed, parliamentary leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, said that the board will work under the Sindh Building Control Ordinance. The building control authority will monitor its performance as well. He said that a survey will be carried out to ascertain whether basic infrastructure such as water, gas and electricity is available before any scheme is started in any area. Pakistan Muslim League-F MPA Nusrat Saher Abbasi said that it was a good project but copies of the bill were not provided to them before it was introduced.
The highrise building model may have worked for other countries but as urban planner Arif Hasan has pointed out, it is not necessarily a good solution. He has argued that planned settlements with compact individual houses on small plots can comfortably match the maximum density rates for high-rise apartments.
Deputy Speaker Shehla Raza said that the lower staff of the education department appointed by the present government have not been paid since Dec 2009. Responding to this concern, the speaker said that since the senior minister for education was not available in the House, he would inquire about the matter.
Meanwhile, Sharyar Maher once again asked the speaker about the adjournment motion he tabled on Friday on the issue of protesting teachers. The speaker said that despite the fact that the adjournment motion was tabled late in the assembly the issue was discussed that day.
He referred to the rules and said it could not be revised. Maher insisted that the issue was not properly discussed. Law minister Ayaz Soomro said that a summary has been sent to the chief minister and the problem would end soon.
Nusrat Saher Abbasi drew the speaker’s attention to the beating of the students of Shah Latif university. She said that no action was taken even though the students were beaten black and blue while protesting for electricity. Ayaz Soomro replied that more than 19 personnel had been suspended.
During the session, the minister of industries was questioned on treatment plants. “It is very unfortunate that no industry is following the orders to establish treatment plants,” he said. There was no wastewater treatment plant in SITE. “I have asked them to set them up and the government can support them,” he said.
He added that his department has requested the president to give every industrial zone permission to set up power plants in their area. When Arif Mustafa Jatoi asked him why industrial areas in Sindh had no gas supplies even though the province contributed to 80 per cent of its production, he said it was unfortunate that no government had paid heed.
Published in the Express Tribune, June 1st, 2010.