E-system envisaged to curb illegal buildings

Squad to point out construction sites sans approval

Afzal Talib January 28, 2024
“Govt should allow the import of construction material on barter otherwise, builders will be forced to move investments,” said ABAD chairman. Photo: file


The Punjab Local Government Department has issued an action plan to prevent illegal construction in the provincial capital, under which all residential and commercial building pans will be submitted through an online e-system instead of offices.

New online system login credentials have been provided to all zonal officers of planning after activating the e-portal, while officials of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) have been posted in the Metropolitan Corporation of Lahore (MCL).

Local Government Secretary Dr Ahmad Javed Qazi was informed during a briefing that the first phase of training of all the officers of the planning department regarding the use of the portal had been completed. Through them the responsibilities are being handed over to the building inspectors so that the reasons for approval and rejection of the building plans may be clarified in due time.

It has been decided that a separate squad would be formed to stop illegal construction and prevent the related corruption.

According to sources, illegal construction going on all over Punjab is not only causing loss of billions of rupees to the public exchequer, but also deforming the landscape of the cities, especially Lahore, and exacerbating the lack of municipal services for the citizens.

Officials of the municipal corporations, planning and other sections of the local government department attended a meeting convened by the secretary to discuss the action plan.

Read ‘Corrupt officials patronise illegal construction’

The participants decided that the online system of building plan submission and approval would replace the manual mechanism from the district up to the zonal level.

Under the new system, the plans submitted in the e-system will be forwarded to the relevant building inspectors who will visit the sites.

Keeping in view the building by-laws, they will decide about approving or rejecting the maps within the stipulated time. The record of the process will be computerised.

The provincial secretary assigned the task of launching the online portal and system to the metropolitan corporation.

The sources said the officers concerned would e held responsible for all illegal construction at the district, tehsil and zonal level.

The enforcement inspectors are responsible for building control along with the town planning and regulation departments, according to the Local Government Act.

However, the inspectors and other officers have failed to curb illegal construction in the metropolis.

Amid a visible proliferation of illegal buildings, the MCL had set a target of collecting Rs215 million as fee for the approval of building plans but could collect only Rs120.8 million.

Read  Illegal housing projects face action

The target for the current financial year has been set at Rs222.5 million but only Rs26 million has been collected in the first six months till December.

The source said no official had faced action over the failure to meet the revenue target.

It was decided in the meeting that a monitoring squad would be formed to prevent illegal construction of residential as well as commercial buildings through the online processing of applications for approval.

The squad will check the buildings on the spot and survey the areas to point out illegal construction.

If any building is identified without the submission of the plan in the e-system, action will be taken against the building inspector concerned.

Municipal Planning Officer Muhammad Salim said the implementation of the instructions of the local government secretary had begun. He said action would be taken against the employees found involved in illegal construction.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2024.


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