The capital’s civic agency on Tuesday cracked down on violators in Sector F-8 and sealed four houses being used for commercial purposes.
The owners of sealed houses were running offices, a guesthouse and a departmental store in residential units in violation of Capital Development Authority’s (CDA) land use policy. During the current drive CDA’s Enforcement Directorate has sealed around 20 houses so far.
Earlier, the owners of sealed houses were served show-cause notices for violations. Fines were imposed after the owners failed to act on the notices. “CDA is carrying out an operation against violators as a routine procedure which has been undertaken on the directions of the Supreme Court and parliamentary standing committees,” said CDA spokesperson Ramzan Sajid.
Recently, CDA Member Planning and Design Mustafain Kazmi had informed a Senate committee that business activities are being carried in 1,200 residential units across the federal capital. Several foreign embassies, missions, guesthouses, restaurants, schools and offices have been set up in houses.
The record compiled by the Building Control Directorate in 2012 shows that 385 houses out of 1,200 were being used as offices for national and international organisations. While around 89 foreign embassies and missions have also established their offices in residential units. Around 97 houses are being used as guesthouses, eight as restaurants, 259 as educational institutes and 128 for other businesses.
“It is a recurring offence and CDA serves notices to violators from time to time, however, it is practically impossible to implement the penalties defined under CDA’s 1993 by-laws,” Sajid said. Hundreds of cases were pending with the courts as violators managed to get stay orders after receiving notices from CDA, he added.
The authority received more than 55 applications from residents last year, pointing out houses in their localities being used for business. First, homeowners are served with notices, stated the spokesperson. In case of non-compliance, the cases of the violators are referred to the deputy commissioner for further action who serves the notices for a second time, he added. “The notices are subsequently published in the print media.”
Violators are liable to pay heavy fines and the plots’ allotment is cancelled, according to Sajid. In the wake of growing tendency to use residential houses for commercial purposes, CDA has initiated action against violators to discourage the practice, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2013.