HMC barred from exercising powers of Revenue Dept

Hyderabad's deputy commissioner issues order to HMC Director Land and officers concerned


Our Correspondent November 05, 2022
Hyderabad Municipal Corporation logo. PHOTO: TWITTER

HYDRABAD:

The officers of Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC) have been barred from exercising the powers of subdivision, amalgamation and land-use conversion of the plots as well as giving approvals for multi-storeys structures.

Deputy Commissioner Hyderabad Fuad Ghaffar Soomro, who is acting administrator of HMC, on Wednesday ordered HMC's Director Land and other low-ranking officials against using these powers which legally pertain to the Revenue Department and Hyderabad Development Authority (HDA).

"... it has been observed that the Director Land HMC [Arif Jahejo who is a veterinary doctor] is still exercising these powers and [he] illegally approved/issued NOCs for sub-division, amalgamation, land-use conversion, multi-storied [buildings], in violation of the lawful orders," reads the administrator's order. He declared that in the absence of any legal cover and authority, the Director Land's actions are void ab initio.

The action has been taken on a complaint of the Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) whose Hyderabad region's Vice Chairman Faraz Hussain Memon wrote a letter last month to the administrator, highlighting the gross violations and actions amounting to contempt of court. In his office order, Soomro cited a 2017 order of the Sindh High Court which had pointed out that the HMC lacked authority to amalgamate or bifurcate plots.

The DC also referred to a July 7, 2007, circular of Katachi Abadis and Spatial Development Department which had refrained Taluka Municipal Administrations and the union councils from giving approvals to housing schemes and commercial buildings. He stated that after the establishment of HDA through HDA Act, 1976, which was revised in 2013, the functions in question were transferred to the authority.

An office-bearer of ABAD told The Express Tribune that the HMC for the first time has been stopped from exercising the said powers. "Nevertheless, the corporation will continue to act as the custodian of the land record until the City Survey Department legally replaces it."

The corporation will also issue leases and other deeds. The HMC's jurisdiction covers City and Latifabad talukas. However, interestingly, it has been using these powers only in Latifabad taluka, whereas the same functions are performed by the Revenue Department in City taluka. A 2012 judgment of the Supreme Court had declared Mukhtiarkar custodian of the record of rights.

In 2017, then deputy commissioner of Hyderabad Anwar Ali Shar had tried to get back the land record from the HMC on the basis of the apex court's order, but after his transfer the efforts were shelved. In his letter to Soomro last month, ABAD's Memon argued that the HMC is even stepping on the toes of Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA). He had warned that the actions of HMC were in contempt of the superior judiciary's multiple orders.

Separately, a corruption inquiry by the Sindh Anti-Corruption Establishment is also underway against Director Land Jahejo, Municipal Commissioner Fakhir Shakir and a clerk M Akram over the same matter.

Association of Builders and Developers (ABAD) Chairman Sindh Chairman Muhammad Altaf Tai has expressed gratitude to Sindh chief minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for resolving this long standing issue in Hyderabad. He said in violation of the SHC's order and notifications of the provincial government, the HMC's officers were illegally collecting charges for amalgamation, bifurcation, change of land use and multiple-storey buildings.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 5th, 2022.

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