HYDERABAD: The violation of Supreme Court-mandated Water Commission's ban on the construction of commercial buildings on residential plots continues in Hyderabad, arguably with official connivance. Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), which is under obligation to enforce the ban, has apparently failed to ensure compliance of the order.
This is despite the fact that the authority acknowledges that despite expiry of the Water Commission, its orders still stay in place. "In compliance of the order of the Water Commission a stay order was issued with directions to stop all construction activities at the site forthwith," reads a letter dated March 18, written by SBCA to builders constructing a ground plus four commercial buildings on plot number 356, Block D, Latifabad Unit 6.
"...the field staff has reported that you are not complying with the directions of this authority and continuously raising construction on the site." The letter was issued in a rare action against the builder after the authority was repeatedly approached by some local residents of the area who produced video and photo evidence of the ongoing work.
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The authority took notice of the complaint because they had also filed a petition earlier against the project in Sindh High Court and a complaint to the Water Commission with the former still being heard in court, said a complainant speaking to The Express Tribune. The SBCA also wrote to the local police station on the same date to stop the construction work while also writing to Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, Latifabad mukhtiarkar and property registration sub-registrar to not entertain the property transactions.
"... kindly disconnect or not provide water supply, electricity and gas connections to the said property," states the authority's letter addressed to Hyderabad Electric Supply Company (HESCO), Water and Sanitation Agency (WASA) and Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC).
However, unlike this project for more than a hundred commercial projects which are supposed to stop work under the commission's order, the SBCA appears visibly lax. The authority's officials were not available for comment.
An office bearer of the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD), who requested anonymity because the issue is litigious in nature, said most builders are in a limbo because the Water Commission does not exist. ABAD has been demanding that ongoing projects on the plots converted from residential to commercial should be allowed to continue while a future ban should be put in place until the provincial government decides the plan for further horizontal growth of urban towns.
The Water Commission banned commercial projects on residential plots in November last year because the water supply, drainage and road infrastructure of Hyderabad do not allow the growth of horizontal structures.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2019.
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