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Nasla Tower: foreign firm to be hired for ‘controlled implosion’

Residents leave after authorities cut utility connections

SAMAA | - Posted: Oct 27, 2021 | Last Updated: 1 month ago
Posted: Oct 27, 2021 | Last Updated: 1 month ago

Nasla Tower residents gather as an SSG worker disconnects gas supply on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. PHOTO SOHAIL RAB KHAN

Most of the residents left the doomed Nasla Tower in Karachi on Tuesday as authorities cut the utility connections and prepared to take town the building in a controlled blast to implement orders from the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

A meeting convened by Karachi Commissioner has decided to hire a foreign firm after experts revealed that Pakistan lacked expertise to use controlled blast to demolish buildings, though it did use controlled detonation to cut through mountains.

Karachi Commissioner had called the meeting of experts and officials to decide on the safest way to demolish the Nasla Tower in a controlled blast and to maintain the law and order.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) on Monday told authorities to implement within one week his earlier order to demolish the building. The CJP also ordered that water and electricity connections to the building be cut by Wednesday, October 27.

The Nasla Tower, a 15-storey residential building at the intersection of Shahrah-e-Faisal and Sharah-e-Quaideen, was declared illegal by the apex court earlier this year.

Controlled implosion not detonation

The order from the CJP to use “controlled detonation” to demolish the Nasla Tower made headlines on Monday and Tuesday.

Karachi Commissioner Iqbal Memon invited NED University Vice-Chancellor and other engineering experts to a meeting held Tuesday afternoon to discuss the demolition.

He sought technical and seismic feasibility of the Nasla Tower and ground support for the demolition process from the Frontier Works Organization (FWO) of the Pakistan Army.

A team of the Pakistan Army’s engineers briefed the meeting on the use of controlled detonation, sources told SAMAA Digital.

The meeting lasted for over one hour and was attended by officials from the Sindh Building Control Authority (SBCA), Karachi Water and Sewerage Board, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, and Sindh Solid Waste Management Board.

The residents of Nasla Tower speak to police officials
The residents of Nasla Tower speak to police officials

The experts told the meeting that although Pakistan did use controlled detonation on mountains, the technique could not be used to demolish buildings which were taken down using controlled implosion, not detonation. Pakistan does not have expertise to use controlled implosion, they said.

Sources say the experts warned that a detonation blast could damage adjoining buildings and even the flyover near the Nasla Tower.

It would rupture water lines in the area, they added.

The meeting decided to hire technical expertise from abroad but concluded that it would require more time.

It was decided that the authorities would write to the Pakistan-based representatives of the international firms with experience in controlled implosions. The same would be advertised in newspapers, the meeting agreed.

The officials and experts also considered the alternative of using machines and labourers to demolish the building.

On Wednesday, newspapers ran an advertisement from the Karachi Commissioner Office calling for bids to demolish the Nasla Tower. Interested firms have been asked to submit their offers within three days.

Commissioner Memon says the demolition is to be carried out in compliance with the Supreme Court order.

“In view of the court order, administrative arrangements are being speeded up. I am monitoring everything myself. A report will be submitted to the Supreme Court after the execution of the Nasla Tower demolition operation,” he said on Tuesday.

Residents leave after utilities disconnected

The main line supplying gas to the building was cut Tuesday afternoon, and the electricity and water connections were taken out a couple of hours later.

It was a sobering scene when a worker from the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) disconnected the gas supply to the Nasla Tower. He installed a big seal after disconnecting the main line. About a dozen residents, including women, gathered and watched haplessly.

The SSGC team acted on instructions from Firozabad Assistant Commissioner.

Police officials also arrived at the scene to overcome possible resistance from the occupants, who had tried to protest against the demolition order, having bought the apartments with their hard-earned just a few years ago.

However, no once resisted. The gas supply was disconnected peacefully. Within a couple of hours, electricity and water connections, too, were cut by in a similar manner.

At least 25 families had already left the building by Tuesday afternoon. There were a total of 48 families at the Nasla Towers.

They loaded their belongings into small cargo trucks and left with heavy hearts.

The remaining families were leaving as the night fell, says SAMAA Digital’s Sohail Rab Khan.

An SSGC team installed seal on after disconnecting gas supply to the Nasla Tower.

Notices Served to residents

The district administration served notices on the residents of Nasla Tower earlier this month. They have been told to vacate the building by Wednesday, October 27.

District East issued the notices on October 12 after the apex court rejected a review petition against a June order of the court.

The notices say the Karachi commissioner has to submit a report about the implementation of the SC’s instructions and ensure that the building is vacated.

“Take notice that you are required to vacate the building ie Nasla Tower within (15) days,” the notices read.

“In case of failure, necessary proceedings under Section 3 of Sindh Public Property (Removal of Encroachment) Act, 2010 may be initiated against you, or other coercive action may be taken,” residents we told.

The district authorities have also advertised the same notices in local newspapers.

karachi nasla tower residents
Photo: Online

Enchroached land

Nasla Tower was declared to have been constructed on encroached land by the Supreme Court on June 16, 2021.

The court issued a demolition order after concluding that there is “no denial” that the plot was expanded illegally. The original plot was 780 square yards but the tower was built on 1,044 square yards, according to the verdict.

“A service road has been encroached on and the tower exists on an area in excess of what was originally leased,” it added.

Consequently, the tower’s builder and residents separately filed review petitions to stop the authorities from demolishing it.

At a hearing on September 23, the petitioners’ lawyer argued that the construction was allowed despite lease cancellations, adding that in these circumstances the residents are not at fault.

Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan replied that it was the responsibility of the residents to check the legality of the apartments before they bought them. “Are you not aware of the forgery that takes place in the city? How can you buy a house without inspection?”

He reassured that the affectees would be paid compensation, according to the market value of the towers, by the government within three months and told the authorities to continue the demolition without any delay.

Each apartment at Nasla Tower was worth around Rs3 million before the court declared the building illegal.

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