Demolition drive is back


Yasir Habib Khan April 13, 2010

LAHORE: The Lahore Development Authority (LDA) is likely to complete the first phase of the demolition operation by May 31, The Express Tribune has learnt.

LDA chief engineer Abdul Rab has said that the first phase would be finalised after demolishing the illegally-constructed eleventh floor of the Big City Plaza near Liberty Roundabout. A total of 12 plazas were shortlisted for the first phase.

They included Rabi center, Ahad Tower, Inam Complex, Al-Rehman Media Center, Geff Heights, Tariq Plaza, Bridal Center, a plaza adjacent to the Telenor building, a plaza at plot no 100/2 on Model Town Link Road, plazas at plot no G-2 and G-8 in PIA Housing Scheme near Shuakat Khanam Hospital, and Big City Plaza in Gulberg II.

LDA spokesperson Sohail Janjawa said that they have already demolished illegally built storeys of 11 out of the 12 plazas in line with the recommendations of the commission formed by Supreme Court of Pakistan. The LDA had to halt demolition work on the Big City Plaza after the owners got stay orders from the SC.

However, Supreme Court vacated the orders last week and LDA has carried on with the demolition work. Janjawa informed that the authority has targeted 39 plazas for the second phase. The demolition work was initiated after a three-member Supreme Court commission comprising Justice (r) Riaz Kayani, architect Kamal Khan and UET VC’s nominee Tahir Ahmad recommended partial and complete demolition of 551 buildings in LDA and 500 in CDGL areas.

The commission inspected around 1,400 building across the city. The builders’ association backed by political parties such as PML-Q and PML-N had earlier moved the court against the drive.

Aitzaz Ahsan was hired by the association to plead its case. Ahsan had stated before the court that LDA could not issue notices to the owners of the buildings on the basis of the commission’s report. The latter was bound to submit the report to the Supreme Court. “LDA had no authority to start the demolition work by interpreting SC orders as general orders,” he had argued.

Though several high-rise bhuildings owners had managed to get a stay order against the demolition, the drive was restarted after the stay orders were vacated by the Supreme Court recently. The LDA had pre-qualified around 21 private firms to pull down the recommended structures. So far only seven firms have joined the demolition drive. The authority would charge all the expenditure it’s incurring on the demolition to the owners.

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