SBCA DG takes action
Residents of Karachi’s Jan Plaza were left perplexed after they found a notice posted on the building saying that its utility services will be disconnected. The Sindh High Court had granted them a stay against their eviction last year.
Jan Plaza is located in North Nazimabad Block K. In November 2020, the residents had approached the high court to stop its demolition. This is because cracks appeared in the columns of several blocks after August rains and a technical committee of the Sindh Building Control Authority had declared it “dangerous” for habitation.
After the new notice was issued on May 19, SBCA Director General Shamsuddin Soomro issued a show-cause notice to the Central District Assistant Director Kamal Ahmed for requesting the K-Electric, KWSB, and SSGC to disconnect the building’s gas, water, and power connections.
The DG said, in his notice, that the SHC stay order was under effect and the assistant director’s directions created panic among the building residents, adding that this was against the Efficiency & Disciplinary regulations. “Such an act has been initiated at assistant director own during stay orders granted by SHC,” the notice said. “This act is tantamount to misconduct and inefficiency on assistant director part and provides sufficient grounds proceed against him under SBCA (E&D) Regulations 2016,” it added.
The assistant director has been given seven days to explain his action.
Ahmed, on the other hand, shared a different story. He said that the notices were issued on the directives of Central District Director Muhammad Raqeeb.
He remarked that he was handling affairs of North Nazimabad No 3, but the central district director asked him to serve a notice to the building, which is located in North Nazmiabad No 2. This happened because the area’s deputy director Jamila Jabeen had retired and Ahmed was asked to serve notices to dangerous buildings instead. “The Central director had handed me a list of dangerous buildings in the district and asked me to serve notices to all of them before monsoon,” he added.
There are 68 apartments and 26 shops in Jan Plaza and three categories of apartments.
After last year’s monsoon rains, visible cracks appeared in the column of several blocks. The residents started the renovation process themselves but after the District Central administration visited the site, it asked the SBCA’s technical team to inspect the building and decide its status.
The SBCA technical team visited Jan Plaza in September and declared it “dangerous” for habitation.
The SBCA North Nazimabad Town served “ejectment” (eviction) notices to the residents but also said they had the right to employ an engineering firm from the SBCA’s list of Category-A firms to carry out the repair work.
In October 2020, the residents employed the firm of Engineer Muhammad Kamil Dehlvi, which applied for the structural drawings of the project to begin work.
Residents said the SBCA wasn’t able to provide the drawings and the engineering firm has refused to start the repair work without them.
They claim that the SBCA compelled them to move the court and obtain a stay order. They did not cooperate with us by providing the project’s documents, they argued.
The SBCA officers told them they do not have the structural drawings of the project, as it was a 35-year-old project. “The SBCA has a proper plan to displace us from our houses,” the residents alleged.
Without the drawings, no Category A approved engineering firm will start work on the plaza.
Residents told SAMAA Digital that the building’s engineering work has yet to start because the SBCA has yet to provide the structural drawing of the project.
The residents said they are getting several offers from different people ready to resolve the issue with SBCA authorities after paying a hefty amount of Rs20,00,000 to Rs40,00,000 as a bribe.
The middlemen have even offered to settle the issue with the SBCA and ensure that the authority changes the status of the building.
“We are ready to spend money on the structure’s improvement, but we don’t want to waste our money,” a resident said.
The building is still in the same position it was last year because the plan of the 35-year-old building is ‘missing’.
However, a 35-year-old building means it was constructed in 1985. The SBCA has been around since 1979 though it was then named the Karachi Building Control Authority. It should, therefore, have the building plans of a project constructed almost 10 years after the authority was created.