SC imposes ban on conversion of residential plots into commercial ones

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KARACHI: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has imposed a ban on conversion of residential plots into commercial ones in Karachi, on Tuesday.

A two-member bench presided by Justice Gulzar Ahmed directed the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA) to review construction of multistorey buildings on residential plots and amenity spaces. It barred the authority from further approving any such constructions on residential plots and amenity spaces.

The bench allowed the SBCA a month to review all such illegal constructions in the city and submit a report relating to it.

“The SBCA should also provide solutions as to how these illegal and unlawful constructed buildings can be demolished and the plot/land put to its original use and how the people, who are occupying such buildings, will be compensated and provided alternate accommodation by SBCA from the funds generated by its own staff,” stated the order.

The top court expressed concerns over the SBCA granting permission to allow illegal constructions and conversions. It directed a legal officer from Sindh Government to take over the authority’s functions and submit details in the next hearing.

SBCA Director General Iftikhar Qaimkhani admitted during the hearing that playgrounds, parks and amenity spaces were being allowed to be converted into commercial spaces and buldings were being constructed on it.

The bench took to task Mr Qaimkhani for not taking action on the court’s orders of removing or demolishing marriage halls, shopping centres, apartments and fuel stations established in Jam Sadiq Ali Park.

The SBCA director general asked for four weeks to remove all illegal encroachments from the park to which the court agreed, asking him to submit a compliance report.